In 2010 SANPARKS culled over 300 jackals in three National Parks in what was the largest massacre of a wild predator species ever executed in South Africa. They believed (wrongly, as it turned out) that jackals were causing the reduction of springbok populations in the parks.
Following the cull in the Karoo National Park, SANPARKS discarded 132 jackal carcasses without any scientific investigation.
They then released 2500 springbok into the Karoo National Park.
Despite the horrific jackal slaughter, see photo of jackal heads above, a count of the springbok population a mere 6 months after their release, showed that an estimated 2000 springbok had died. Clearly, SANPARKS had misinterpreted the reason for the decline in the number of Springbok.
Unwilling or unable to accept that the jackal cull had been a ghastly mistake, SANPARKS and NMMU scientists Graham Kerley, L, Minnie and G. Gaylard went ahead and once again decided to massacre more than 300 jackals in the three national parks between 2011 and 2013.
To make this whole wasted exercise worse, the authors then published a paper with the Journal of Applied Ecology London, where they sought to analyse the difference between age group structures of the jackals massacred in the three parks, where ‘they had not been persecuted previously’, and those animals on farmland, where they are continually persecuted.
The 2010 massacre would have vitiated the findings, since thereafter, the few surviving parks jackals could hardly be put forward as ‘un-persecuted.’ So, the authors dealt with this inconvenient truth by ignoring it. Unbelievably, the authors decided not to disclose the 2010 jackal massacres in their paper.
So 600 jackals were slaughtered for no good scientific reason, other than to produce a tendentious, unscientific and flawed paper. This worthless paper was then published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, giving it an unmerited credibility.
Despite demand by concerned conservationists, researchers and scientists, the Journal has failed to withdraw the paper and publish an apology.
Prof Andrew Leitch, NMMU, Port Elizabeth Andrew.Leitch@nmmu.ac.za
Dr Erika Newton, Editor, Journal of Applied Ecology. Erika@britishecologicalsociety.org