350 years ago was the last time that jackals, caracals and other small predators roamed carefree in the Western Cape. Nowadays these so-called ‘vermin’ have lost their former hunting grounds to agriculture, and farmers in some provinces can legally hunt and kill them to protect their livestock.
New draft legislation in the Western Cape is falling into place whereby permits to hunt jackals and caracal will be issued to farmers, valid for six months (they were previously valid for only three months). The draft legislation also specifies that more animals can be killed by each farmer using a variety of debatably taboo methods such as night hunting, shooting from a helicopter and setting traps. Dr Bool Smuts of the Landmark Foundation, which opposes the new legislation, says there are more humane, ecologically sound methods of protecting livestock. We have a look at some of the consequences of using nonspecific traps in the Cape, for example, a ‘soft’ trap – in essence a gin trap with a different name but equally lethal consequences. We speak to CapeNature about the 400 permits issued last year and what they mean for the predator populations. The animals are undoubtedly responsible for millions of rands of stock losses each year and farmers have understandably had enough, but does the means justify the ends with one of the largest predator culls in recent history in South Africa?
Serious stuff with snakes
Snakes are part of South African life. Some people have them as pets, others view them as pests when they slither onto the kitchen floor and there are those that actively go out and find the very deadliest of them to charm. Ramakhosi, Tello and Naidoo are three such men. They upturn rocks and dig for snakes in the bushveld, and will also do you the service of removing an unwanted snake from your house. These men have caught, charmed and kept snakes for many years, to the fascination of many people. Ramakhosi has learnt first-hand about the dangers of dealing with snakes and about permit-related issues. Johan Marais, a leading South African herpetologist, speaks to us about handling and caring for snakes. We see how Ramakhosi, Tello and Naidoo have learnt about snakes and their ways and why they participate in this dangerous pastime.
Snakes may be exciting to see on VeldFokus, but they can be very dangerous. In the studio, we speak to Doctor Moeng, a trauma surgeon at Milpark Hospital in Gauteng who has vast experience in dealing with snakebite injuries. He talks to us about treatment and getting antivenom for dangerous bites, and reveals some of the common misconceptions when it comes to snakebite first aid.
What if you arrive in the bush hoping to get that perfect shot of a leopard – but you can’t find the animal anywhere? Do you pack up and go home? No, not at all. This week Villiers gives us some ideas about what to do when the subject you want to photograph is out of sight. He helps us to think out of the box and to find less obvious but equally beautiful parts of the bushveld.
This week we have a look at some badly behaving bovids. We also meet a gemsbok with a strange horn, a buffalo taking a dip with hippos and two of the largest antelope (eland) fighting it out over a female.