Final feedback on the Karoo Predator Project

Last week, Marion and Marine drove up to the Central Karoo to give a final feedback on the results of their research to the farmers and other interested parties. Nelmarié Saayman from the Department of Agriculture – Western Cape Government also gave a presentation on the veld condition of the Gamka Karoo vegetation type in the Central Karoo, in terms of vegetation and soil erosion potential in two rainfall zones.

This meeting was an opportunity to see the farmers again and other stakeholders who have been involved in the Karoo Predator Project, and to discuss the results of Marine’s PhD together. It was also the opportunity to thank all the people who participated in the success of the project.

Even if the Karoo Predator Project is drawing to an end, results will keep being published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and in magazines for the general public. UCT is also involved with more ecological research around the SKA in the Northern Cape Karoo.

Watch this space for our work that has just been accepted in peer-reviewed scientific journals and that we will share with you soon.

Marine presenting a summary of all the results from her PhD to the farmers and interested parties in Laingsburg, Central Karoo.


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New paper published on species richness and occupancy on farmland and in Anysberg Nature Reserve

Dear followers,

I am happy to share with you that we have published a new paper in the international journal Biological Conservation and titled “Multi-species occupancy modelling of mammal and ground bird communities in rangeland in the Karoo: A case for dryland systems globally”.

We used camera traps along with a novel statistical method and showed that species richness was not significantly different between the protected area and the neighboring extensive small-livestock farms. Our results reveal that drylands in the South African Karoo region, including rangeland used for small-livestock farming, support a diverse community of terrestrial vertebrates and that therefore, private landowners are important custodians of key components of indigenous biodiversity outside of protected areas. This result is particularly important for conservation and support the approach of biodiversity stewardship programmes such as the one created by CapeNature, the governmental body organization in charge of nature conservation in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. For more info about their programme, see

If you want to read the full article, please follow this link and ask me to share the paper (the Journal does not allow us to directly share the paper on social media and blogs):

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Wolf urine creates fear in red foxes

A new paper has been published recently in the scientific journal Oecologia about a possible mechanism through which medium-sized predators avoid interactions with larger predators.

Link to the paper:

Dog food was made available to red foxes at feeding stations in Croatia. When the researchers placed granules scented with wolf urine at those feeding stations, red foxes left more food behind and spent less time in visiting food patches each day. The researchers showed that red foxes were using their olfaction to assess the risk represented by wolf urine.

This research is very interesting as it might also apply to medium-sized carnivores such as black-backed jackals and larger carnivores such as leopards.

The “PredatorPee®, Wolf Urine Yard Cover Granules” might also serve as a jackal deterrent on small-livestock farms where jackal predation is an important problem. Though we do not know if those granules would work on jackals that have never met wolves, or their potential impacts on sheep… Some farmers have reported using cheetah scat in plastic bottles tied to their fences to scare medium-sized carnivores off the area where their sheep were grazing.

A lot more research is needed to find non-lethal ways of protecting sheep against predators in South Africa and worldwide.

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An interesting read about ditching stereotypes when working with human communities

Although about orangutans in Borneo, this blog is a great read for anyone involves in conservation work with local communities. Humans are as (or even more!) complex than animals, and as ecologists/conservationists, we sometimes tend to forget it.

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Webinar on large carnivore in Europe and interesting story of a shepherdess in the Swiss Alps

Today, The Karoo Predator Project attended a webinar on large carnivores in Europe (grey wolf, Eurasian lynx and brown bear) and on how sheep farmers could protect their sheep from predation. Tonu Talvi (Environmental Board of Estonia) and Valeria Salvatori (co-author of the European Commission guidance document “Guidelines for population-level management plans for large carnivores” and presenting the Italian NGO DifesAttiva), gave us some insights on large carnivores, predation and sheep protection in Estonia and Italy.

The audience was from all across Europe and beyond and all seemed to agree that livestock guarding dogs (LGDs) are a great solution against large carnivore predation when they are properly trained and cared for, and when associated with a shepherd(ess) or with electric fences. The European Wilderness Society shared an article with the participants about a shepherdess and her dogs doing great work in the Swiss Alps, have a read:

Some concerns about the emergence of the golden jackal as a potential predator of sheep were raised during the post-conference discussion, with a participant highlighting the fact that all the different stakeholders should start including the species in their activities/research.

Source of the picture:

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UCT puts our research in the spotlight

This week, UCT chose to communicate about our recent paper on dietary niche relationship between predators in the Karoo. They published a great article written by Nadia Krige about it called “The unexpected appetites of predators in the Karoo”. Our research were also advertised on UCT News.

Have a read and let us know what you think about our results!

We would like to thank the UCT Research Office and particularly Jess, Carolyn and Lisa for advertising our work. Thanks also to Nadia Krige for relating our findings without the scientific jargon and to Nathalie Houdin and Denis Palanque for providing some great photography to illustrate the article.

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New KPP paper on the dietary niche relationships among predators on farmland and a protected area

The Karoo Predator Project is happy to announce that Wiley has published our research on the dietary niche relationships among predators on farmland and a protected area in the Journal of Wildlife Management. The paper was followed by an article written by David Frey for the Wildlife Society.

Our research shows that black-backed jackals (Canis mesomelas) and caracals (Caracal caracal) can adapt their diet to the land use in which they live. On rangelands, the diet of jackals consists of 42% of small-livestock whereas it consists of 25% of small-livestock for caracals. Interestingly, in a nearby protected area, jackals mostly eat fruit, and caracals micromammals.

Another important finding is that black-backed jackals consume more small-livestock than expected compared to their availability in the landscape on rangelands. We termed this fact “preference”. It is therefore extremely important for small-livestock farmers to protect their sheep on rangelands because of jackals “preference” for livestock over similar-sized wild prey species. However, we would argue that farmers can not bear the full cost of livestock protection and losses alone in South Africa and that assistance from the State and NGOs – like in other countries in the world – is necessary and would improve wildlife and livestock welfare.

You can also access one of the article press releases by following this link:

Best wishes for the festive season and happy holiday!


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The Karoo Predator Project participates in the conservation assessment of Canis mesomelas

Dear followers,

As you probably know from a previous blog post, the Karoo Predator Project is involved in some of the assessments for the 2016 Red List of Mammals of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. The project is led by The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and provides an up-to-date assessment of the state of South African mammals, of which 57 (17%) are deemed to be threatened with extinction and 34 (10%) are Near Threatened.

The Karoo Predator Project took part in several of these assessments and the one on black-backed jackal has recently been published.

The other assessments in which the KPP got involved are the caracal, the black-footed cat, the chacma baboon and the grey rhebok ones (national  and global).

Enjoy the read!

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Protected Areas Advisory Committee Meeting in Anysberg Nature Reserve

Last Saturday, Zoe Woodgate, a PhD student working on the critically endangered riverine rabbit across the drylands of South Africa, and Marine Drouilly went to Anysberg Nature Reserve in the Little Karoo to present their respective project and some of their results to the farmers living around the protected area. The meeting was chaired by Marius Brand, Anysberg Nature Reserve’s manager.

Anysberg Nature Reserve in the Klein Karoo.

It was a great opportunity to exchange with mostly lifestyle farmers this time and we were delighted to see how conservation-minded the whole community was! Both Marine and Zoe were asked lots of interesting questions after their talks.

PhD student Zoe Woodgate presenting her work on the critically endangered riverine rabbit.

The Karoo Predator Project would like to thank Cape Nature and Marius Brand for inviting Marine to the meeting and giving her the opportunity to share her work with more people.

Great surprise for Marine: Marijke and Marlie Gouws, the farmers family who accommodated her in the Karoo and helped her so much with her project, travelled to the Little Karoo to come to the meeting!


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The KPP involved in the revised Red List assessments for mammals

Dear readers,

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) are launching the 2016 Red List of Mammals of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. This Red List provides an up-to-date assessment of the state of South African mammals, of which 57 (17%) are deemed to be threatened with extinction and 34 (10%) are Near Threatened.

Assessments are carried out through vast networks of scientists, conservationists and other stakeholders pooling their knowledge. Red Lists have become the backbone of global conservation as a unified and standardized tool to measure biodiversity loss and inform policy and conservation planning. The 2016 Red List of Mammals of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland was produced by the EWT and SANBI, with collaboration from the universities of Cape Town and Pretoria’s MammalMAP and the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC), provincial and national conservation agencies, museums and universities. For more information on these Red Lists, click here.

The Karoo Predator Project took part in several of these assessments for:

  1. the caracal
  2. the black-footed cat
  3. the black-backed jackal (soon to be available)
  4. the grey rhebok (national (soon to be available) and global)
  5. the chacma baboon

Have a look at them, they are full of interesting information!


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