The South African government is aware of the predator problem experienced by especially sheep farmers, but they say the onus is not on them alone and asked for landowners to assist them in making sure the problem is addressed through the right channels. This follows after Agri Eco reported about threat of sheep farming running the risk of becoming extinct if the problem is not addressed as a matter of urgency.
Farmers throughout the country are outraged at the amount of sheep lost due to predation, and feel they are fighting a losing battle as it is expected of them to protect their livestock the “Green” way. Their animals are killed on a daily basis by caracal and black-backed jackal. Nic Zaayman from the Free State Red Meat Producers Organisation, who also serves on the Predation Management Forum, says it cost farmers in the region of R1.13 billion a year, and this figure includes only the farmers they have record of.
In their response, the Free State Provincial Government, through Hannes Blom, the Assistant Director of the Professional Hunting and Problem Animal Control, said according to the National Policy and Guidelines for problem animal management (control) in South Africa, the following are accepted as policy:
Responsibility of the landowner
Conflict with problem animals like caracal and black-backed jackal is an inherent risk of farming within or adjacent to an area where continuous natural habitat still exists and is therefore an industry related problem of producers in agriculture. The reduction or elimination of losses caused by problem animals is part of the producer’s production process, the primary responsibility for which rests with the landowner.
Responsibility of the State (department)
The State’s (Department’s) responsibility in problem animal control is at most the provision of a support service at the interests of the community as a whole. This service should be directed at activities with positive or negative spill over to the community as a whole or which require special expertise which is not always available in the private sector. It can include, among others, the following:
- The continuation of research programmes on problem animals. This research projects will be directed primarily at the conservation of species or ecological systems and processes.
- Participation in extension programmes aimed at reducing or eliminating losses by means of efficient, effective and ecologically and ethically acceptable methods.
- Participation in the training of problem animal hunters, farmers and farm workers wherever the private sector is unable to provide these services comprehensively.
- The regulation of problem animal management practices and the protection of species and ecosystems.