For our French followers

For our followers who can read French, here is the last article published by the Project about the diet of predators in the Karoo:

The Karoo Predator Project thank the “Pôle Grands Prédateurs” for hosting articles about the project on their blog.

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Passing away of our friend and partner Piet Gouws

The Karoo Predator Project is deeply saddened by the passing of its partner and friend Piet Gouws. A memorial service was held in Laingsburg on Saturday 28/01/2017.

Piet will be profoundly missed, in the Karoo and beyond. We lost more than a partner farmer. Without him, the Karoo Predator Project would not have been born. It was Piet who asked Prof. Beatrice Conradie to help start a research project on predators and farming in the Central Karoo. He and his wife Marijke invited her and other researchers from UCT to stay on his farm and it soon became the base for the Karoo Predator Project. Later on, when Marine joined the project, he introduced her to many other farmers and welcomed her into his family as if she was his own daughter, in spite of the language barrier. He also welcomed Kai and Marion and accommodated them while they were conducting fieldwork and research on baboons. He continuously supported the Karoo Predator Project research, including the capture and release of predators. Piet even took care of an orphan caracal while we were looking for a place to reintroduce him – even though wild caracals were sometimes killing his own lambs.

Piet must have found it very challenging working with researchers, conservationists, French students and vegetarians! Everyone who’d ever had the privilege of working with him and his family always found them welcoming, caring and resourceful. We will miss him very, very much. This is truly a great loss to the Karoo Predator Project but we will keep on working with farmers to better understand predation in the central Karoo.

The Karoo Predator Project is sending out to his family, and especially his wife Marijke, his daughter Marlie and his son Pieter, its most heartfelt condolences and sympathy.

Sheep farmer Piet Gouws and his dog Rusty. Piet was one of the first farmers to be involved in the Karoo Predator Project research.

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Get-together in the Alps

Marine, Nathalie Houdin and Denis Palanque (our French photographers) met in the Alps at the beginning of the year, around a warm cheese pizza, to discuss the potential for a South African exhibition about the Karoo Predator Project. It has been more than a year since the three friends had seen each other. While it was snowing outside, Marine caught up with all the recent successes of the photographers and their IUCN prize, while Denis and Nathalie enquired about the Project and all the farmers.

We are looking for sponsors to help us set a photographic exhibition up in the Western Cape of South Africa, about the Karoo Predator Project. If you are interested in helping us, please contact us through our blog.

Some of Nathalie’s and Denis’ photographs will also be permanently exhibited in the new Human Wildlife Institute at the University of Cape Town.

Best wishes from -7°C Alps!


Nathalie Houdin, Marine Drouilly and Denis Palanque getting together to talk about the next step of the photography project linked to the Karoo Predator Project.

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On conservation photography…

Dear readers,

Happy New Year! To start 2017 well, I am glad to offer you the opportunity to read an interview (in English!) of our French photographers working on the Karoo Predator Project. Nathalie and Denis won a very competitive prize: the Terre Sauvage Nature Image Awards IUCN Bourse, while reporting on the Project, with their story in 12 pictures.

This is a short interview to know more about them and their work as conservation photographers: 



Conservation photographers Nathalie Houdin and Denis Palanque in the Karoo while reporting on the Karoo Predator Project.

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Reducing livestock depredation, a lesson from large carnivore studies

In December, 17 an interesting paper by Miller et al. was published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin about how effective different techniques (lethal and non-lethal) are to reduce livestock depredation by large carnivores.

Although the study dealt with large carnivores such as wolves and tigers, the lessons learnt could be useful for medium-sized carnivores such as black-backed jackals and caracals, also predating on livestock.

The study points out that there is little consensus about what methods are the most useful and under what circumstances, but also shows that preventive husbandry and deterrents seem to work the best in reducing livestock losses. However, the methods show wide variability and more research is desperately needed on the efficiency of lethal predator control methods and human guarding of livestock.

For more information about this paper, please visit Berkeley News:

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The Karoo Predator Project now involved with PredSA

The Karoo Predator Project is now involved with the Scientific Assessment on Livestock Predation in South Africa (PredSA). The objective of this work is to “inform decision maker’s (in this case the South African government departments, and specifically the Ministers of Environmental Affairs and of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) understanding of the issues around predation of livestock, based on the evaluation by acknowledged experts of the best available information. It will translate available scientific and “grey literature” as well as personal knowledge from South Africa into a form usable by policymakers.”

This work will be conducted as an independent and science-based assessment and will concern the whole of South Africa.

For more information about the Scientific Assessment, please visit:

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Short documentary about the Karoo: episode II

Dear readers,

Our photographers Denis Palanque and Nathalie Houdin are happy to present the second episode of their series of short documentaries around their time in the Karoo. The second episode involves the small cats of the Karoo and the Cat Conservation Trust of Marion Holmes, Cradock, Eastern Cape.

Episode II: Marion Holmes’ Cat Conservation Trust

Marion Holmes and one of her resident servals.

Even if large wild cats disappeared from the Karoo region because of human activities, this dry and scorched land is still inhabited by small- and medium-sized felines. For them, life is, however, not that simple when they come into contact with humans.

During our photography report on the Karoo Predator Project, we were lucky enough to meet Marion Holmes. Marion graduated in Botany and with her husband Richard; they live near Cradock in the Eastern Cape.

They chose to change their lives and stopped farming sheep that were not well-enough adapted to the harsh conditions and did not allow them to make a decent living. Instead, they have started a game farm. They only keep herbivores on their farm where they attract foreign trophy hunters (mostly).


Young African wildcat at the Cat Conservation Trust rehab centre.

While Richard is managing the hunting side of their business, Marion has created a breeding and care centre for the small wild cats of the Karoo: The Cat Conservation Trust. The centre takes care of injured, sick or orphan wild cats. Marion and her assistants look after them, train them to hunt and when possible release them into the wild. Some, handicapped, almost blind or too injured to be rehabilitated into the wild remain at the centre. A vital balance exists between the two structures and without the left over meat from the hunting farm, Marion could not take care of all her little protégés.


Young serval playing at the centre.


Marion Holmes playing with one of the servals she rescued.


Marion Holmes feeding a caracal at the Cat Conservation Trust.

The centre takes care of several species, caracals (Caracal caracal), African wildcats (the ancestor of our domestic cat, Felis sylvestris lybica), the threatened black-footed cat (Felis nigripes) and servals (Leptailurus serval). Small cats are a vital part of the ecosystems in which they live but desperately need to be protected as well.


African wildcat looking grumpy in its “den” at the centre.

The Cat Conservation Trust is an NGO that aims to create public awareness of the plight of small cats through research and education. It is supported by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Cat Specialist Dr. Mircea Pfeiderer of Germany, Dr. Robertson and Mrs. Beryl Wilson.


Serval at the centre.

To support them or « adopt a cat », please contact them.


Serval rescued by Marion Holmes.

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