Damage Causing Animals

The management and history of Damage Causing Animals, including black backed jackal and caracal is outlined below

CARACAL AND BLACK BACKED JACKAL CONSERVATION IN THE WESTERN CAPE

ISSUE FACTS
A SNAPSHOT 1654: Jan Van Riebeeck’s journal for 30 March 1654 (p.221) indicates some of the problems he was having with his small livestock, from the steady losses of sheep on the mainland: “on account of the excessive wetness of the ground caused by the river; many are carried away and devoured every day by leopards, lions and jackal.” *(Skead: 205)“Despite heavy persecution by small stock farmers, over many decades, the species has persisted in most areas. It appears to have recolonised areas where it was exterminated by farmers”*(Skead: 207)

Pre-2009: The conflict between farmers and caracal and black backed jackal continues.The livestock industry is essentially self-regulated. Some farmers target biodiversity in general, stock and biodiversity losses increases.

2009 – 2010: CapeNature initiates its permit system to manage DCAs including black backed jackal and caracal. Our goal is to tighten control in the management of these animals.  A three month permit is available to farmers. The permit allowed the night hunting of five jackal and five caracal per night.  The methods allowed included: poison, gin trap/ cage trap, public road, night shooting, artificial light, .22 rim fire rifle, semi-automatic weapon, bow and arrow and dogs, for most of this period, but some were systematically phased out. 

  • By 2009 the methods in bold were not allowed: poison, gin trap/ cage trap, public road, night shooting, artificial light, .22 rim fire rifle, semi-automatic weapon, bow and arrow, dogs 

2010: Farmers demand drastic measures to control and reduce jackal and caracal numbers, reportedly responsible for unusually high stock losses.  Reports to both Minsters of the environment and agriculture results in high-level meetings in an attempt to resolve this matter, and requests from organised agriculture to declare black-backed jackal and caracal as a disaster in the Western Cape Province.  This among other would have led to the large-scale hunting of these two species.

The MEC for the environment then decides that the responsible way to address this issue was to scientifically investigate the implementation of sustainable management options which are selective, humane, and legal and ecologically sound as a long-term solution.

A short term solution is to offer farmers the legal and environmentally sustainable option of taking out CapeNature’s hunting permit. 

2011: CapeNature changes the time period of the permit from three to six months, to ease the administration burden. Instead of two three month permits, a single six month permit is issued with the same conditions. As before, the renewal of this permit is subject to the submission of a detailed report on the number of stock losses and DCAs hunted during this period.

2012 and beyond: The issue of damage causing animals is extensively engaged through an inclusive and constructive process with key stakeholders such as Agri-Western Cape, the Predator Management Forum as well as environmental NGOs to find sustainable solutions in the management of damage causing animals.

CapeNature initiates an independent literary review to identify existing research long term solutions for the management of damage causing animals.  The primary recommendation of the report outlined the need for a unified approach in which all parties will have to yield some ground so that they all may eventually benefit from developing a new holistic strategy. The review can be downloaded from the CapeNature website here: Literature Review of the Ecology and Control of black-backed jackal and caracal (Bothma 2012)

A Wildlife Forum, led by Dr Mark Walton consisting of representatives of registered animal welfare organisations and formal forums representing the interests of the agricultural sector, is established in 2012.

NUMBER OF JACKAL AND CARACAL HUNTED BASED ON PERMITS ISSUED

It is important to bear in mind that before 2009 no permits were required in the Western Cape for the hunting of damage causing animals such as jackal and caracal.  The livestock industry was essentially self-regulated. Stock and biodiversity losses increased. Three-month hunting permits were issued by CapeNature since January 2009.  This was later changed to a period of six months; however no permit conditions were changed. No permits are issued for the use of helicopters and gin traps or soft traps.  

Between January 2009 to 31 May 2011: CapeNature issued a total of 357 DCA three-month permits.

Between July 2011 and December 2012: CapeNature issued 400 six-month permits.

Feedback from the permit holders is as follows:

Caracal – 190

Black-backed jackal – 135

Between 1 January 2013 and 11 November 2013: CapeNature issued 81 permits.

Feedback from the permit holders is as follows:

Caracal – 23

Black-backed jackal – 46

The statistics, therefore, indicate that the extremely high number of animals hunted, as quoted in the media, is unrealistic and totally out of line with what is happening in practice.

Jackal and caracal are both shy and nocturnal animals and are not easy to hunt.  A landowner typically does not have the time, knowledge and resources to hunt five animals per night, seven days a week, for 183 days.  The number five was given to landowners as a way to show that CapeNature is serious about limiting the number of DCAs that may be hunted per night.

OVERVIEW OF DCA HUNTING IN OTHER PROVINCES OF SOUTH AFRICA 

The Western Cape remains the strictest when compared with other provinces in the country.

Eastern Cape – An annual DCA permit (caracal & black-backed jackal) is issued with unlimited species numbers to hunt at night; Upon renewal a register must be submitted stating the species and the numbers hunted during the year. Permits are also issued for the use of a helicopter, but for a shorter period and also for unlimited species numbers.

Free State – Property owner does not require a permit to hunt on his property.  If not the property owner an annual DCA permit (caracal & black-backed jackal) is issued with unlimited species numbers. Methods include trap cage, dogs and gin traps.

Gauteng – If the farm has an exemption permit (CoAE) the owner is allowed to hunt DCA’s on his property. If the farm is not exempted, the property owner must apply for a permit. The permit is issued based on the merits of the situation e.g.1 animal for duration 1 month.

Northern Cape – Caracal & black-backed jackal is listed on the hunting notice. Culling operators must apply for a DCA permit valid for 1 year and unlimited species numbers for specific species as listed on the permit.  Feedback must be provided annually upon renewal of the permit.

North West – Property owner may hunt caracal, black-backed jackal, porcupine and baboon on his property without a permit. If the property owner makes use of an additional hunter, he only provides written permission to the additional hunter. No permit is issued to an additional hunter.

KZN – For small mammals which include caracal, black-backed jackal, porcupine, etc. they do not issue permits since these species are not listed in their Ordinance.  Only herbivores (game species) are listed and they issue permits for crop damage. The animal numbers will vary depending on the damage. They tend to issue more permits for elephant, leopard and crocodile for the use of trapping and shooting. They have not issued permits for the use of helicopters because the farmers do not need a permit to hunt caracal and black-backed jackal. If helicopters are used, they do not know about the practice but that a permit is required for helicopter use.

LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK AND ROLE OF CAPENATURE The management of DCAs is and remains the responsibility of the landowner, CapeNature’s responsibility relates to:

  • The establishment of a legal framework within which the landowner can protect his stock
  • Free and expert advice and training regarding holistic methods, etc.
  • Identifying and stimulating research 

In terms of our legislation, Ordinance 19 of 1974, CapeNature has the authority to issue permits to allow the use of certain hunting methods that would otherwise be prohibited in terms of sections 29 and 33.

CapeNature in conjunction with the industry is working on a protocol to manage DCAs. The protocol will be in line with National legislation, the National Norms and Standards. The protocol will be subjected to public comment in order to ensure a process that is open and transparent.

RESEARCH AND WAY FORWARD In 2011, CapeNature instigated an independent literature review that confirmed that once the social structure of the jackals/caracal is destroyed it results in uncontrolled breeding.  This explains why the conflict between farmers and DCAs has been ongoing for close to 400 years. It is for this reason that we are encouraging farmers to target the individual damage-causing animal and not the whole species. The review can be downloaded from the CapeNature website here: Literature Review of the Ecology and Control of black-backed jackal and caracal (Bothma 2012)CapeNature wants to secure biodiversity, but at the same time enable a sustainable red meat industry and food security for the people of the Western Cape.

CapeNature promotes the holistic management of DCAs and will continue to issue permits (with conditions) as a method to control it, because it is the only way farmers will be able to use a prohibited hunting method to mitigate stock losses, legally.

The cooperative agreement for the management of damage-causing animals was accepted by the Predator Management Forum and signed in April 2013 after it had been Gazetted, was open for comment to the public, and recommended for use to the agricultural sector.  This cooperative agreement promotes the use of sustainable, holistic management principles and recommends that only the specific damage-causing animal (not the species as a whole) is hunted, only when all other management methods/tools have failed to protect livestock.

*Reference: Skead C J. 2011. Historical incidence of the larger land mammals in the broader Western and Northern Cape. 

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1)    Is the DA trying to curry favour with farmers and other potential voters by issuing these permits?

The permits have been available and used by farmers since 2009. Between January 2009 to 31 May 2011, CapeNature issued a total of 357 DCA three month permits. Minister Bredell encouraged the farmers to make use of the legal method to hunt jackal and caracal by making use of CapeNature’s permit system.

2)    What are the permit conditions?

1.  Hunting method(s) allowed with this permit:

(a)  During the period one hour after sunset on any day and one hour before sunrise on the following day.

(b)  With the aid of artificial light.

2.  This permit to hunt is restricted to the confines of the farm xxx ONLY.

3. This permit does not allow the holder to track/hunt animals in areas for which he has not gained a permit and written permission from the landowner.

4. The permit holder must inform all adjacent neighbours of the intent to hunt at night and with artificial light.

5. This permit does not authorise the holder to hunt any species which is not listed on the permit.

6.  The permit holder must inform CapeNature’s office within 24 hours of a successful hunt.

7.  The permit holder must submit a FULL report of all stock losses (including date, amount and estimated value of loss) and a FULL report of all hunts of damage-causing animals (i.e. date and time of hunt, species killed, amount of species killed, sex of species killed, contents of stomach of animals killed etc.) to CapeNature prior to the expiry of this permit.  Failure to submit such reports may result in further permits not being issued/renewed.

8.   This permit may also be used by Mr xx a professional and registered hunter (ID number) subject to the same conditions listed in this permit.

3)    Is your department exerting pressure on CapeNature to issue the permits, in spite of their resistance?

CapeNature issued similar permits between January 2009 and 31 May 2011.  CapeNature issued a total of 357 DCA three month permits.

Minister Bredell encouraged CapeNature to change the time period of the permit from three to six months, to ease the administration burden. Instead of two three month permits, a single six month permit is issued with the same conditions.
This is seen as a short term solution to a problem that has been ongoing for close to 400 years.

4)    How many permits will be issued for this year?

It will depend on the number of requests that CapeNature receives.

5)    Is there scientific and conservation research on which the issuing of these permits is based? If so, what is it?

The MEC for the environment has made funding available to CapeNature to scientifically investigate the implementation of sustainable management options which are selective, humane, and legal and ecologically sound as a long-term solution.

The independent literature review has been completed and will be implemented once it has been peer reviewed by various scientists and conservationists.

A short term solution is to offer the farmers the legal and environmentally sustainable option of taking out CapeNature’s hunting permit. This is done to limit the number of jackal and caracal hunted.

6)    Were 900 000 jackal and caracal hunted?

Jackal and caracal are both shy and nocturnal animals and are not easy to hunt.  A landowner typically does not have the time, knowledge and resources to hunt five animals per night, seven days a week, for six months – as calculated by the Landmark Foundation.  The number five was given to landowners as a way to show that CapeNature is serious about limiting the number of DCAs that may be hunted per night.

Between May to CapeNature issued 400 six month permits.  One of the conditions was that the farmers will provide us with feedback.  To date we have received feedback from 46 out of the 400 DCA permit holders on the following numbers per species hunted: Caracal – 190, Black-backed jackal – 135

The above prelimary statistics indicate that the extremely high number of animals hunted, as often quoted by the Landmark Foundation, is unrealistic and totally out of line with what is happening in practice.

7)    Will jackal and caracal be exterminated by issuing farmers permits?

This is not possible. Jackal and caracal have been hunted for almost 400 years. According to feedback from farmers, the number of these animals is escalating.

CapeNature is concerned that the unselective hunting of jackal and caracal is the reason for the increase in population. We know that once the social structure of these animals is disturbed it results in uncontrolled breeding.

Our draft protocol is based on holistic principles. It advocates the principle that” “prevention is better than cure”. We advise farmers to implement holistic methods including shepherding, Anatolian dogs and the kraaling of sheep as a way to prevent their livestock to be hunted.

We advise the hunting of the individual damage causing animals as a last resort.

Methods to hunt the individual should not impact on other species.

The human induced increase of jackal and caracal also has a negative impact on the environment.  Higher predator pressure, in the Karoo for example on steenbokkie, duiker and small population of reptile poses a threat to these species and could result in biodiversity loss.

8)    Will helicopter hunting be allowed?

Helicopter hunting is not allowed currently. We have discussed the option of allowing it in the proposed protocol (drawn up in conjunction with the industry to guide the future management of DCAs) in an experimental area linked to a research project as a once off.

9)    Will gin-traps be allowed?

We do not issue permits for the use of soft traps currently, but again we are looking at allowing it in the proposed protocol, based on the conditions and specifications in the draft Norms and Standards on the management of DCAs.

*Reference: Skead C J. 2011. Historical incidence of the larger land mammals in the broader Western and Northern Cape.

Literature Review of the Ecology and Control of black-backed jackal and caracal (Bothma 2012)

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