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Defending the Jackal

Defending the Jackal

Deliberate poisoning of jackals shocks conservationists (via SANParks Times)

The shocking discovery and poisoning of jackals in the Addo Elephant National Park on August 10 has lead to a full scale investigation. A reward of R22 000 was made available for anybody with information that will lead to a successful prosecution. Initially, only 21 carcasses were found after the incident, but numbers continued to increase after the first cases were reported.

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Only two weeks later, a staggering 44 jackals and a number of other animals have lost their lives. While the motive for the killing is unknown, a toxicology report by ARC-Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute confirmed that they were all poisoned by the carbamate pesticide, methomyl.

“We knew immediately that it was poisoning,” says conservation manager John Adendorff. “Animals suffered severe internal haemorrhaging (bleeding). I was absolutely appalled by what was unfolding in the park,” he said.  Death would have taken place within 10 minutes of ingesting the poison.

He says that the culprit must have entered the park to cause the damage. Dead jackals were discovered along tourist roads, on the domkrag loop to Rooidam and all the way towards Hapoor dam. From there the trail proceeded south towards Addo heights road.

Most of the carcasses, first discovered by tourists on a game drive, were found with mice and small rodents in their stomachs.  Jackals play an extremely important role in keeping these numbers low. Without predators to control their numbers, seed beds would ultimately disappear leading to the loss of vegetation and soils.

Jackals also clean up carcasses and scavenge on hyena and lion kills, controlling flies and the possible outbreak of diseases. Adendorff says that they did not have any indication of the population present in the park. At this stage it will be difficult to say what the ecological effect on the park will be.

A number of other animals, including two crows, were also affected. However, many smaller animals are difficult to detect, so it could be much worse.  “Since the incident we have not seen one of our male lions,” says Adendorff. Hyena may also have died, but with 24000 hectares affected it is difficult to cover the entire area. The entire park covers 184 000 hectares.

Local farmers have in the past complained that jackals prey on their sheep and goats. SANParks’ Environmental Crime Investigation (ECI) unit is investigating the matter. A case relating to the discarding of toxic chemicals under the Protected Areas Act had been opened with police.

“We will continue to try and solve the case and should we come across the perpetrator of this horrendous crime, he or she can expect to have the full might of the law thrown at them. “

A reward of R10 000 was initially offered, but this has increased to R22 000 after a local organization and one concerned member of the public added to the amount. The reward will be paid for info that leads to a successful prosecution. Anybody with information can contact conservation manager John Adendorff on +27-42-233-8606

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