340 jackals killed as experiment

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 06 November 2010

Parks authorities have shot and killed around 340 jackals in a controversial experiment to boost declining antelope numbers in two national parks.

Now conservationists have accused authorities of questionable scientific and ethical motives and of trying to mask an unprecedented cull as an experiment.

In May and September this year, SANParks authorities killed 132 jackal in the Karoo National Park and a further 73 in the Darlington section of Addo Elephant National Park and 139 from the Kuzuko section of the park, as part of a jackal research project.

In a brief research paper released this week, SANParks researchers explained that in certain sections of the parks, which have been earmarked for large predator establishment, they noted significant sustained declines in the populations of certain ungulate species, notably springbok.

A number of studies demonstrated that in fenced ecosystems, where larger predators were absent, jackals could become “very significant predators” of the lambs of smaller to medium-sized antelope.

“Thus there was reason to believe that high jackal predation as a result of the predator trap was severely inhibiting antelope population recoveries in these two parks,” and its decision was made to reduce the predation pressure on the antelope by culling the jackals, abundant in the two parks.

But Bool Smuts, the director of the Landmark Foundation, which educates farmers about non-lethal predator controls, and is involved in jackal research, termed it highly unusual for parks authorities to embark on massive lethal sampling of an indigenous predator species in a national park.

“It’s inconceivable that this could have been allowed… that our national parks authority institutes such an action without a public participation process, then responds in an arrogant way, is not acceptable. Continue reading