Botswana: Use New Ways to Manage Predators

Today I will focus on what should be done to save Batswana from predators, and leaving them impoverished. The issue of predation on livestock in Botswana is complex and contentious, and it has been challenging to determine how best to reduce livestock losses without adversely affecting wildlife welfare and biodiversity. These challenges mirror those throughout the world wherever predators and livestock co-exist and affect livelihoods, food security, biodiversity conservation, and animal welfare. Farmers have been protecting their livestock for centuries by fencing and kraaling to prevent the risk of losses due to predators. It is clear that the predator "problem" is an economic, or potential economic, problem to the livelihood of livestock farmers.

The solution therefore needs to be at least partly economic whereby incentives will negate the predator persecution by livestock farmers The conservation of the biodiversity process of predation has inherent value to conservation, i.e. as a natural process it has value in itself as well as its role in natural eco-systems. - In interaction with animals it requires humans to act ethically, and as such, to treat all animals humanely. - The economic imperatives of farmers managing their risks, inclusive of the economic risks resulting from the conflict between predation and livestock production, needs to be effectively and acceptably managed. I talked about how farmers are loosing a lot due to predators and the government is not paying adequate compensation. I have spent most of my life involved with conservation and have seen many atrocities committed against our indigenous Fauna and Flora over the years.

None more so than the continuous slaughter of natural predators trying to survive in a world which is in conflict with man's interests. I have seen how farmers poisoned cattle and later killed a lot of endangered vultures. The indiscriminate use of poisons to control predators (or other "pests") causes a "trigger effect" in the ecosystem, resulting in massive damage to the ecosystem and killing many innocent animals, as entire food chains are affected and contaminated. The uncontrolled and reckless use of poisoned bait, which is scattered around in the veld holds great danger to animals and people alike. Remember people still consume game meat.

Exposure to the extreme horror of predators attempting to escape from gin traps by chewing off their own paws or the indiscriminate use of lethal poisons is a way people resort to these effects because we are not involving people. Many wildlife species are killed for alleged livestock predation, even when they are not responsible or just due to accidental by-catch. They are sometimes deliberately targeted and killed, but mostly they are killed accidentally when other predators are targeted, usually with indiscriminate methods such as poisoning, gin trapping (snap traps or leg-hold traps) and indiscriminate hunting with dog packs. Throughout the world people are finding ways to live in harmony with nature and it was with great interest that I received this manual which promotes practical and ethical ways to deal with predator problems facing our farming community.

Holistic and non-lethal management practices are far not efficient, cost effective and though acceptable. Centuries of dedicated persecution have failed to resolve the problem for farmers, and some would readily admit that the situation worsened in recent years. This calls for a radical new way of dealing with the problem.

The new wave; Consumers are demanding that new and acceptable methods of predator management be developed and implemented. Although a single control method is unlikely to work completely, but applied together and alternately, these methods will reduce the problem significantly. The techniques promoted in this paper are methodologies that are bringing intensive animal husbandry practices back to extensive farming operations, without changing the extensive nature of livestock farming. The interventions that are recommended can be grouped into the following categories that will be described in various degrees of detail to enable the farmer to pursue these techniques should they be relevant to his / her farm. First we should be thinking of guardians. These methods result in livestock being guarded against predators, namely: Livestock Guarding Dogs (inclusive of Anatolian Shepherd Dogs), Alpacas, herdsmen, donkeys and cellular telephone technology used as a herding and guarding mechanism. The "Veldwagter" is a small collar around the neck of one or more animals in a group. It monitors the behavior of the animals on a 24-hour basis through a motion-sensing device that triggers a SMS message to the farmer in the event of excessive motion. This idea was seen as an experimental design along the Kaudwane area, and DWNP left this idea. I know because I proposed this idea, and wrote about it. This is where I expect the research division of Department of Wildlife and national parks top invest its energy upon. The second most appropriate would be the deterrent methods. These methods deter predators from targeting livestock, including: protective sheep collars (inclusive of Dead Stop collars, King Collars and Bell collars), fencing, noises, lights and smells. Just like the chilli pepper program that we invested a lot on, its appropriate that the new wave of thinking should be these.

In 2002, the DWNP came with a community PAC programme on which targeted communities were trained on how to effectively control problem animals. Why was that idea abandoned? And a take home message; A farmer must decide for himself what level of predation is acceptable and what level of control would be sufficient, so that the cost does not exceed the benefit of predator control.

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