Farming with Nature Workshops – Learning Together

Published: 08 November 2022

Conflict with predators is one of many challenges faced by farmers, together with drought and extreme weather. However, farming ‘with’ nature is not only possible, but advantageous in improving resilience and enhancing productivity. However, farmers sometimes lack the knowledge or confidence to adopt more holistic farming methods. In 2022, the Cape Leopard Trust (CLT) Conservation team jointly led a number of informative workshops to share principles of holistic land management and sustainable farming in harmony with predators, with farming communities and conservation practitioners. We are proud to report on the successful conclusion of this inaugural Farming with Nature workshop series, presented in collaboration with CapeNature and the Herding Academy.

The three full day workshops promoted methodologies that protect nature, benefit farmers and enhance food security. Topics included holistic drought management (which explored methods to improve land productivity during droughts, including the use of grazing plans); holistic predation management (which included topics like predator behavioural ecology, conflict mitigation methods and carcass evaluation); and finally applied holistic agro-ecological management – which promoted agricultural ecology principles and aimed to support farmers to practically apply these principles to their individual farming set up.

Hands on sessions brought the topics to life. These included CSI type ‘investigations’ to determine which predator was responsible for livestock loss scenarios, and mock snare patrols. One participant stated "I enjoyed the practical scenarios the most. It was really useful to apply the practical knowledge into real life scenarios and understand the concepts better.”

The workshops were held between August and October in Montagu and at Langgewens Research Farm between Malmesbury and Mooreesburg, and were attended by nearly 40 participants, many of whom joined multiple sessions. The CLT would like to sincerely thank CapeNature and Herding Academy for partnering with us on these workshops and adding so much value by sharing their expertise. A big thank you to ABAX Investments and Herding Academy for providing the necessary funding to run the workshop series, and to Langgewens and Montagu Country Hotel for graciously hosting the events. Vehicle sponsorship from Ford Wildlife Foundation enabled the CLT staff to travel to the workshops.

The CLT Conservation team hopes to make this Farming with Nature series a regular event and plans are already afoot to present the workshops in different areas in the Western Cape in 2023. The first of the 2023 workshops will be hosted in the Little Karoo near where the CLT camera trap survey is currently underway. Please contact [email protected] if you would like to find out more about upcoming workshops.