South African jackal research could hold key to WA wild dog issues
South African techniques and approaches to control predatory canines’ impact on livestock could soon be used to defend WA farms and pastoral stations from the wild dog threat.
Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development research officer Tracey Kreplins has been awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study predator species management in the southernmost tip of Africa.
Through the project, Dr Kreplins will travel to South Africa in September next year for four weeks to assess predatory canines, including black-backed jackals, alongside University of South Africa researchers.
Speaking to Countryman, Dr Kreplins said WA’s wild dog issue was mounting and research would be effective in mitigating the pest’s advancement.
“There is a big need to look at better forms of wild dog control in WA,” she said.
“Without fail, you can find farmers and pastoralists with mauled sheep on the ground — the problem is getting worse, not better.”
Dr Kreplins, one of 115 Australians announced as Churchill Fellowship recipients last week, co-ordinates multiple wild dog field research sites across the State.
Poison 1080 baiting is a major tool used in WA’s weaponry to fight the wild dog scourge which has drastically reduced sheep numbers across Goldfields, Murchison and Gascoyne pastoral leases.
However, South African farmers are prohibited to use the toxin for pest control and instead place a heavy focus on fencing, trapping and shooting.
Dr Kreplins said she was eager to learn about South Africa’s approach to canine predator management in an effort to protect livestock.
“They have similar problems with the sheep being eaten and predated on,” she said.
“The researchers there have looked at interaction between the predators.
“Poisons are illegal in South Africa, so they don’t do baiting, whereas in WA our native species aren’t harmed by 1080 so we use baiting as a main form of control.
“It is completely contrasting to see how South Africa goes about pest control and predatory management.”
Victorian researcher Judith Brewer also received a Churchill Fellowship last week to further her bid to create and expand care farming practices in Australia for autistic adults with acute anxiety.
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