The Karkloof Conservancy’s 16th Annual Game Count

On the windy evening of 22 June 2012, members of the Karkloof Conservancy joined together to count the game on their land for the 16thannual game count. The participation of the farmers, foresters, SAPPI, Mondi, UCL, the Karkloof Nature Reserve and landowners who were, as always, keen to participate, resulted in a good representation of the species numbers. Everyone was welcomed with a cup of warm Gluhwein and warm fires when they arrived back at the Karkloof Country Club. Janine Smith from the Lions River Honorary Officers helped us collate all the data for comparison of previous game counts so that everyone could see how the game numbers were doing.

We were all delighted to see that there were 26 Oribi counted and that other species were stable and healthy too.  Well done well done to Britt and Rene Stubbs whose Oribi population have remained healthy. SAPPI counted 8 Oribi on the Shaws flats again and Bruce MacKenzie and his son were happy to have seen 2 on their land that evening as well!

Numbers went up for Reedbuck, Bushbuck, Waterbuck, Duiker and Bushpig. It was great to have counts of 3 Serval, 2 Caracal and 5 Genets as well. Hare and Jackal numbers dropped this year which I am sure is a small relief for many who have Jackal problems on their land.

It is important to realise that the killing of jackals is not a solution to reducing their numbers. If anything, it worsens the problem. For instance, the killing of the dominant female results in the pack’s hormonal changes that induce the lesser females going into oestrous. This results in a dramatic increase in pack fertility and population numbers. Sustained persecution of jackal therefore results in younger females going into oestrus and an increase in litter sizes. Many farmers in the Karkloof have made use of a non-lethal control method of introducing donkeys with their livestock. This results in their livestock being guarded against predators as donkeys are very efficient in chasing them away. Being herd animals, so if there are only one or two individuals, donkeys will instinctively gravitate towards and remain with a herd for security. Donkeys are also extremely protective of their foals, so a mare with a foal is an added advantage. Due to the aggressive behaviour of stallions, mares are preferred.

The Endangered Wildlife Trust run a Wildlife Conflict Mitigation Project, so please visit the following link to their website for more information on this topic.:

www.ewt.org.za/WHATWEDO/OurProgrammes/WildlifeConflictMitigationProgramme/OurProjects

(This link will also take you to a page where you are able to download a pdf version of a very useful book entitled “Predators and farmers” that will shed some light on this topic as well.)

You can also visit our website www.karkloofconservation.org.za to find out more about the Karkloof Conservancy and the role they play in the Karkloof community.

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