Dealing with a 'Predator Problem'

User avatar
Leila
Posts: 2035
Joined: 14 Jun 2011, 21:45
Location: South Africa
Contact:

Dealing with a 'Predator Problem'

Postby Leila » 02 Sep 2014, 22:39

Day 220: Who's the Bad Guy? Who's to Blame? - Part 1
http://ylaww.blogspot.com/2013/07/day-2 ... -part.html

On the farm we started noticing a little while back that our ducks were disappearing. Previously when we had ducks disappearing, it was mostly ducklings that would be grabbed by some of the bigger Nile Monitor Lizards that resided by our river at the time. Those have since been re-located to a more suitable environment -- so we knew: it wasn't the lizards.

So it started with all the ducklings disappearing, at a rate of about one a day. This is usually not very suspicious since they are small and we have things like eagle, mongoose and smaller lizards that can easily eat them. But then -- the motherduck also disappeared! Again, we weren't too suspicious about it -- because it happens and then afterwards thing usually go 'back to normal', which it did for a while. But then, we noticed that our adult duck population was declining, and more specifically it were the male ducks that had just started 'vanishing'. They would fly out to our dam during the day and one of them would not return at night. So we started looking around more and found some duck carcasses around our river. We started investigating and found some poo as well. So we checked what animals would eat the ducks in terms of their size and the rate at which they were being eaten and determined that it could either be a caracal or a jackal, but the poo matched the jackal more so we went with that.

One of our neighbours that moved away used to provide the jackals in the area with sheep that had died. We figured that since he had moved and there were no longer any sheep around, the jackals had moved out to look for food elsewhere. They are known to eat poultry and are about the size that could eat adult ducks.

As the male ducks died and mostly females remained who now had learnt that it is safer to sleep on the roof of the stables, no ducks had died in a while and everything was quiet.

Then, about a week later we noticed a goose had disappeared. We had 11, now there was 10. We didn't see any signs of struggle or snatching (usually there's a spot with lots of feathers and then a trail of feather to the corpse), it was just weird. The goose was gone and we didn't see any sign of it dead or alive for a couple of days. Then, another goose disappeared, and some leftovers were found by the river. A few more of them disappeared. In the meantime, Gian had stopped working in town and resumed working on the farm and was now also spending time looking out for the jackals, checking if he couldn't catch a glimpse of them. The dogs would usually get tense and restless just before and during an attack, so we used that as our guide. One night, the dogs were restless and there was lots of noise of ducks and geese by the stables -- so Gian went to have a look.

While he was there he saw two geese being killed by an animal coming from out of the water, which had the shape of a mongoose. Ok, so it's not jackals we're dealing with -- it's a mongoose.
This was strange though because the only mongoose I had ever seen on the farm had been pretty tiny, like cat-size and I couldn't imagine it being able to carry a goose up in the air (which is what it did when Gian saw it). We started locking up the geese so that the four that remained from the 11 could survive. I started leaving some vegetable closeby where the mongoose had been eating its prey because supposedly they also eat fruit and vegetables - and maybe he would be okay turning to veggies 100% for a while. In the mornings I would go pick up the vegetables again so that Quizzy the little naughty pony we have on the farm, wouldn't go and eat it as fences don't stop him lol.




Every morning I would find the vegetables untouched, but the remaining geese carcasses had been eaten more of. A few days ago we then in the morning saw a patch of feathers on the ground where the chickens sleep, and a trail of feather going towards the dam. Gian had invested in some wildlife books on mammals in South Africa and how to read their tracks, and had noticed some perfectly preserved paw prints in the mud by the dam where the chicken had been dragged to. Using his newly acquired skill, he determined that the paw prints were not mongoose prints -- but otter prints! The cape clawless ottter to be precise. Now this made both more sense and less sense, as otters are bigger than mongoose and thus can carry a goose -- but at the same time it didn't make sense because their diet is supposed to be limited to crabs, fish and frogs. We used to have crabs in the river but it had been a while since we had seen any. We had fish but many had been eaten by fish eating birds like the heron and spoonbills. Now that it was winter and not much rain had passed, the dam had not received any new water from higher up in the valley, where usually fish would flood in with the new water of the summer rains flooding rivers and dams all over the place. The frogs -- they go and hide and hibernate all throughout winter.
So, now that his natural diet had become unavailable, the otter had decided to start eating the next best thing in the water -- which was first ducklings, then ducks and now geese. Going bigger and bigger as he ran out of options.

So this is the story / background to our chicken/duck/goose snatchings -- and in my next blog I will get to the actual point that I wanted to share lol.



User avatar
Leila
Posts: 2035
Joined: 14 Jun 2011, 21:45
Location: South Africa
Contact:

Re: Dealing with a 'Predator Problem'

Postby Leila » 02 Sep 2014, 22:40

Day 221: Who’s the Bad Guy? Who’s to Blame? - Part 2
http://ylaww.blogspot.com/2013/07/day-2 ... -part.html

This blog is a continuation to the otter story in Day 222: Who’s the Bad Guy? Who’s to Blame? – Part 1.

ARKive image GES033998 - African clawless otter What most people will do when they find out they have a ‘predator problem’, is to find the animal and kill, say by trapping it, gunning it or putting out bait with poison. Killings may not occur anymore and it looks like the situation is ‘fixed’. This is however a very limited way of looking at things, where we look at a problem in isolation of its context. We’re in fact not really fixing anything by just ‘killing the animal’, but merely removing a symptom of a bigger problem.

Each animal has a very specific habitat/environment which supports it, which is supposed to provide the animal with its suitable diet. When a disequilibrium takes place in any one of the points that keeps everything going / keeps everything in place in terms of having a functional ecosystem where all are supported, things start going wrong one by one.

15COVER-articleLarge If you take the otter for instance, he’s supposed to be eating fish, crabs and frogs. He is living in a ‘humanized’ area where there is not much ‘wild nature’ available for him to thrive. There are limitations like fences and waters which have been polluted due to human activity. Now there are no crabs and fish around, and he doesn’t have much other place to go that would be more suitable in the direct environment. So now he’s eating whatever else he can get his hands on: ducks, geese, chickens, random birds. He does not really want to eat these animals but was forced to because his environment was out of harmony. Now we have for instance a situation where we have no more male ducks left and thus the ducks have no way of making babies (though we can just buy more males, but this is not always possible in every situation). So there, another point of disharmony has been created which will have further consequence. When I put out birdseed for the wild birds in the morning by the river, I also see a lot of his poop lying around. What’s interesting here is that he is not even able to digest the meat he is eating properly. There are lots of undigested pieces of meat present in his poo. So obviously, this diet is not for him. So it’s really kind of a lose-lose situation where ducks and geese are dying and at the same time they are dying so he can sustain himself but it’s not really doing the job.

endciv_11x17_web So it’s easy to go ‘oooh look, there’s the culprit! Damn otter!!’ – but he is also just being a victim of his environment and the conditions he found himself within. We can then keep on pointing at each little point that was out of place somewhere down the line that caused him / drove him to the behaviour he currently adopted for the sake of survival. The thing is that, just like with the money system, we can’t just fix nature and the animals by only changing ‘one point’. Nature and the Animal Kingdom are one whole, one interconnected system. To fix one problem you really have to always go back to the whole and ensure that the whole system is sound and in a state of harmony in all ways. If you look at Nature, it is quite fine working and sustaining itself, by itself, when left alone. Once you bring in the human factor, disharmony starts occurring as we through our ignorance and arrogance start appropriating land that we believe are ‘entitled’ to, which animals then lose. So if we really want to point fingers for these type of events where predators come and eat livestock – it’s really a matter of pointing it at yourself since the human has been the main cause of disrupting harmony in the nature and animal kingdom. We are also the only one’s who are in a position to fix this and to restore balance to the earth.




Return to “Blogs & Vlogs about Animals”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron