Weʼre raising £40,000 to to help support the caracal and black-backed jackal
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The black-backed jackal and the caracal are two important predators in South Africa. However, they are under constant threat from farmers and ranchers who regularly trap, poison and shoot them over conflicts involving the loss of livestock. A blanket approach to control is currently being carried out without understanding the role that these native predators have on the ecosystem.
Photo by: www.maxpixel.net
The caracal's streamlined body, reddish golden coat, and dramatic facial markings, have led to them being considered one of the most beautiful of all the wild cats. They are the fastest and largest of all the small cats in South Africa. Caracals are diet specific predators and have evolved to mainly feed on small mammals, rodents, and birds - with powerful legs they can jump up to 10 feet high. Although, when natural food is limited they may target livestock such as sheep and goats. Caracals can have a positive influence on the environment by keeping smaller herbivore numbers low and a single cat will defend its territory against other caracals. They are thought to help curb outbreaks of certain rodent borne diseases.
Photo by: Nevit Dilmen and Derek Keats
The black-backed jackal is a fox-like canine with a slender body, long chestnut coloured legs, and large pointed ears. They get their name from the mottled black and silver markings on theit backs. Fossil records indicate that they are the oldest existing member of the canine family. Jackals are omnivores and feed opportunistically on mammals, birds invertebrates, fruits and berries. They are also important scavengers and form a part of the earths natural clean-up crew. Black-backed jackals are also known to prey sheep and other livestock although thier impact in terms of exact numbers of depredations and circumstances under which this depredation takes place are unclear. Jackals form monogamous, life-long pair bonds. The mated pair will exclude other jackals and prevent large increases in rodent and rabbit populations.
Photo by: Anon
Today, both the caracal and black-backed jackal are targets of lethal control by farm and land owners to reduce the level of livestock predation. Some livestock farmers and ranchers adopt a “shoot on sight” attitude. Despite there being evidence that once the territorial jackals/caracal are killed it results in uncontrolled breeding, a resultant increase in the local populations and an amplification of the problem. Others may use poisons and chemicals which can leach into the environment and affect multiple species. The lethal control methods currently used may, in fact increase the problem leading to more predators, even less natural prey and consequently higher impact on small stock.
Photo by: Joshua Morgan
Currently very little is known about these predators and there are large gaps in our understanding. As a result, land owners are unable to make informed decisions and have resorted to an attempt to eradicate these species. With Less than 80 published studies between 1960 and 2013 the impacts of lethal control methods are uncertain. Improved understanding of the role that these predators have in the ecosystem and the circumstances under which they prey on livestock will help stop innocent animals being targeted.
With your help we can provide the necessary research to address the key issues and knowledge gaps. By donating you will be contributing to a project that will investigate the effects that jackals and caracals have on farmland areas. This will enable us to provide a platform that we can use to discuss the conservation, management and protection of these species with landowners and government officials. With your support we will be able to purchase GPS tracking collars, remote monitoring cameras, and veterinary care for these iconic animals
Together we can put a stop to the unnecessary killing and create a better understanding to help protect and conserve these species.
Cover photo by: Eddy Van & Derek Keats
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