A successful Karoo trip to share our results with farmers

On Friday, 11th of November, the Karoo Predator Project set up on a journey to share results and information about predators with the farmer communities in the Karoo.

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Angora goat peering through a broken window on a farm in the Central Karoo.

The trip started on Friday afternoon with two vehicles: one with Justin, visiting Prof. Steven Redpath from the University of Aberdeen and Storme, and one with Nicoli, Jeremy, Marion and Marine. We drove to the guest farm Jagerskraal where Nicoli presented her jackal narratives to Steve and we all discussed about Justin’s newly created Human Wildlife Institute (more on that subject in a future post) at UCT.

The following day, all the researchers drove to Laingsburg to present their results to the farmer community at their end-of-year function. Justin introduced the Project in Afrikaans and thanked the farmers for their support. Storme talked about tick-borne diseases found in jackals and caracals, while Marion discussed the emerging problem with baboons on farms and Marine presented her results on the diet of mesopredators on farmlands and in Anysberg Nature Reserve. Jeremy concluded the presentations with a great interdisciplinary talk about Leroy, a subadult dispersing male jackal that we collared and that travelled from Beaufort West to Anysberg. The talks sparked off lots of interesting questions and remarks from the farmers. A lovely braai was then organized to finish the meeting. It was a great opportunity to see everyone again and meet once more with jackal expert Niel Viljoen, who also attended the meeting.

In the afternoon, while Storme and Justin had to go back to Cape Town, Nicoli, Jeremy, Steve, Marion and Marine drove to Piet and Mariejka’s farm. It was so good to be back to the farm and to see them again.

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Piet showing the researchers a salty plant found on his farm, that Chinese people like to eat because of its very strong salty taste.

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Culture of onion seeds on Piet’s farm.

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Piet talking to Jeremy and Nicoli about his plans to rebuild his house that was destroyed by fire at the beginning of the year.

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Marine made a new friend!

Sunday was spent in the Karoo National Park to introduce Steve to the Karoo wildlife. We managed to find a male lion (Sylvester???), a jackal and three troops of baboons.

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Professor Steven Redpath watching a lion in the Karoo National Park.

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Nicoli and Jeremy looking for raptors and a cheeky Cape grey mongoose in the Karoo National Park.

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The researchers examining an old hyena trap that was used by the first settlers in South Africa. Very different from the traps used today!

On Monday, everyone drove to Beaufort West to attend the Department of Agriculture meeting and present research results. Some farmers were also present and the discussions post-presentations were interesting.

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Tea time at the Beaufort West meeting.

We then drove to Prince Albert and Marion, Steve and Marine had a great lunch at the Lazy Lizard. Marine tried to introduce Steve to the red espresso, with no success.

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Marion and Steve having a big slice of cake (and me too!).

In the evening, we gave our last talks in Prince Albert. It was great to see that many young farmers were present and interested in our research, asking very interesting questions. We ended up the trip with a nice pizza dinner organized by the farmers before driving back to Cape Town the following day.

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Prof. Jeremy Seekings presenting Leroy’s journey at the Prince Albert meeting.

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Dr. Marion Tafani showing what baboons eat on farms at the Prince Albert meeting.

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Marine showing results from cluster analysis at the Prince Albert farmer meeting.

The trip was very successful and the Karoo Predator Project would like to thank all the people involved, and especially the farmers who made the effort to drive to the meetings to listen to our talks and who gave great comments. A special thank you to Prof. Beatrice Conradie, who unfortunately was not able to join the trip for personal reasons, but without who all these research would not have been possible. We are looking forward to the next trip in 2017 to give more feedback on predator ecology and farm economics.

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