Livestock predation losses: Sustainable solution needs to be found

Source: Livestock predation losses: Sustainable solution needs to be found | Sunday News (Business)

Farming issues, Mhlupheki Dube

A CASUAL conversation with one veterinary officer got me thinking and inspired this week’s contribution.

The conversation was around the impact of dip tanks in his district in reducing tick borne diseases prevalence, considering he had just shared that they had managed as a district to construct a number of new dip tanks with the support of development partners.

He revealed that while incidences of tick borne diseases were going down, it was the loss of livestock due to predation which was worrying, such that in a month, the district could record a mortality of four animals due to tick borne diseases against 50 caused by predation.

The geography of his district is such that some communal villages are neighbouring protected areas.

However, the challenge of predation seems to be across most communal areas even those that are not next to protected wildlife zones.


What is clear is that the type of predators will vary from one area to another but it is not in dispute that loss of livestock due to predation is a serious production challenge for most smallholder communal livestock farmers.

The important question therefore is what can be done to reduce livestock losses to predation?

What is the level of liability that authorities in charge of protected areas have towards livestock losses incurred by livestock farmers?

What capacity building needs to be done to livestock farmers to enable them to withstand the challenge of predation in their localities?

Are there no simple tools or equipment that can be provided to livestock farmers to help control marauding predators in their area?

The mostly widely reported predators in most interior communities are the hyenas and jackals.

Hyenas attack both large and small stock whA CASUAL conversation with one veterinary officer got me thinking and inspired this week’s contribution.ile jackals attack small stock.

While the simplest method of avoiding predation from these have been kraaling animals overnight, evolution seems to creep in and the predators seem to be more and more becoming diurnal in attacks as opposed to the traditional nocturnal attacks.

In other words, it is becoming common to lose especially small stock to predators even during the day.

This can also be attributed to the increasing number of these predators.

It is important to note that because these predators are now surviving within the communities they are protected from the natural culling processing of nature and the natural self regulatory processes of the jungle ecosystems and this have seen their numbers steadily increasing over the years in correlation with their level of menace.


Larger cats such as lions and leopards are usually reported in areas neighbouring wildlife zones, but in some cases they have been known to go deep into the interior of communal areas.

It is my submission therefore, that responsible wildlife authorities like Zimparks and local authorities need to equip livestock farmers with practical predator proof approaches and tools for controlling these predators.

It cannot be proper that livestock farmers should just be left to count their losses and lick their wounds everyday as the responsible authority just waves pieces of legislation that enforces their operation.

Are there no simple tools that Zimparks can provide to livestock farmers in rural communities to snare and control hyenas for instance in a controlled culling manner?

Since Zimparks and the local authorities are not resourced enough to respond to every livestock farmer distressed call regarding predator attacks, is it not prudent to train and capacitate livestock farmers with equipment and tools they need to fend off predators in their community?

Then Zimparks can monitor and supervise these communities for compliance to the expected guidelines.

My point is, it is no longer sustainable nor tenable for the wildlife authorities to just fold their hands and let livestock farmers bear the brunt of attacks and count their losses every day.

A proactive win- win approach is needed which will ensure that both wildlife and livestock are protected for continued coexistence.

In the absence of such an intervention, the situation will explode and spiral out of control as communities take matters into their hands.

It’s about time we found a workable sustainable predator control that is both inward and outward looking so that interests of all concerned are catered for.

It cannot be right for wildlife authorities and organisations such as conservancies and safari operators to be smiling all the way to the bank from proceeds of wildlife exploitation against a background of tears of livestock farmers!

A solution must be found and now.

Uyabonga umntakaMaKhumalo. Mhlupheki Dube is a livestock specialist and farmer.

He writes in his own capacity. Feed cell 0772851275

Enjoyed this post? Share it!