Cattle Mortality on a Predator-Friendly Station in Central Australia
July 3, 2019
Large predators are declining worldwide primarily due to hunting and persecution by humans, driven in large part by the livestock industry. Some ranchers are transitioning to “predator-friendly” farming by adopting nonlethal predator deterrents. On very large rangeland properties, such as the vast stations of the Australian arid zone, ending lethal control may in itself reduce livestock losses by enabling the predator’s social structure to stabilize. The dingo (Canis dingo), Australia’s apex predator, is commonly subjected to eradication campaigns to protect livestock. We analyzed causes of cattle (Bos taurus) deaths on Evelyn Downs, a 2,300-km predator-friendly station in central Australia, for 2 years after dingo protection was established. Husbandry-related challenges, associated with deteriorating environmental conditions, were the leading causes of deaths of cattle. Predation by dingoes was minor and declined as the indices of dingo abundance stabilized and social stability increased. Shifting from killing predators to improving husbandry standards is likely to improve livestock survival and welfare.
Author(s): Arian D. Wallach, Daniel Ramp, and Adam J. O’Neill