Impact of Livestock Husbandry on Small- and Medium-Sized Carnivores in Kalahari Savannah Rangelands



ABSTRACT  We analyzed relative sensitivities of small- and medium-sized carnivores to livestock husbandry (stocking rates and predator control) in Kalahari, South Africa, rangelands at a regional scale. We monitored small carnivores using track counts on 22 Kalahari farms across a land-use gradient ranging from low to high stocking rates and also interviewed each farm manager to identify farmers' perception of small carnivores as potential predators for livestock. We recorded 12 species of small- and medium-sized carnivores across 22 Kalahari farms. Stocking rate was the most important driving variable for local carnivore abundance. Abundance of all species was lowest on farms where stocking rate was high. Most farm managers perceived medium-sized carnivores, in particular, African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica), black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas), and caracal (Caracal caracal), as potential predators of livestock. Multiple regression analysis shows that black-backed jackal, African wildcat, and caracal were negatively affected by predator control measures, whereas bat-eared fox (Otocyon megalotis), cape fox (Vulpes chama), and small-spotted genet (Genetta genetta) were positively affected. Our results show a need for expanding research and conservation activities toward small- and medium-sized carnivores in southern African savannah rangelands. We, therefore, suggest developing a monitoring program combining passive tracking with indigenous knowledge of local Khoisan Bushmen to monitor carnivore populations, and we recommend additional predator removal experiments that manipulate predator densities.