Supporting agriculture and biodiversity - Nelson Mandela University Staff Bulletin (20/11/2018)

A NATIONAL and global historic first – the scientific assessment of livestock predation and its management in South Africa – was recently launched at Nelson Mandela University.

WORKING TOGETHER … Role players (from left) Mr Joe Kgobokoe, Deputy Director General: PPME Policy, Planning and Monitoring and Evaluation Dept of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Prof Graham Kerley, Centre for African Conservation Ecology, Professor Sibongile Muthwa, Vice-Chancellor, Nelson Mandela University, Ms Skumsa Mancotywa, Acting Deputy Director-General: Biodiversity and Conservation Dept of Environmental Affairs and Mr Guillau du Toit, Chair: Predation Management Forum attended the launch of scientific assessment of livestock predation and its management in South Africa at the university.

Edited by Mandela University researchers Prof Graham Kerley, Dr Sharon Wilson and Dave Balfour of the Centre for African Conservation Ecology, the publication provides government, industry, and stakeholders with detailed and current insight and knowledge on the complexities of managing livestock predation in policy development.

Numerous authors countrywide were involved in the two-year project.

Both agriculture and biodiversity are key elements of the South African economy with the production of meat, fibre, skins and other animal products, such as milk, contributing to the economy and food security of the country.

Both the Departments of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Environmental Affairs have to provide enabling regulatory environments in their own fields.

Predators and predation are an important element of the natural landscape and functional ecosystems but are in conflict with livestock production versus natural predator populations.

This assessment contributes to a better understanding of these issues.

“Despite many years of ongoing predator management and research into the issue, the problem persists, leading to extensive loss of livestock, the costs of which may exceed R1 billion per annum. These costs are carried by the livestock producers, but may have ripple effects throughout the livestock-based value chain, and accordingly affect food security as well as the sustainability of livestock dependent economic activities such as fibre production,” says Prof Kerley said.