Learning from the land – a holistic management approach

Published: 29 September 2021
A flock of almost 1000 sheep in their mobile kraal, with their herder and his caravan. The flock is actively herded for improving the soil and ultimately the veld condition.

The Cape Leopard Trust continually seeks to expand our knowledge of effective and nature-friendly methods of land management and livestock protection. The Executive Land Management Course at the Herding Academy in Graaff-Reinet presented just such an opportunity, and our CLT Community Outreach Officer was fortunate to attend this insightful course in early September.

The course covered the basics of managing land holistically with nature, and was made even more impactful by visits to local farms that are practically applying the principles in their own contexts. This included demonstrations of specific tools effectively used by farmers (including GIS systems, using herders in combination with mobile kraals, mobile electric wires) – see the images and captions in the gallery below for examples. Another boon of the course was the fact that it did not try to preach a one-size-fits all solution. It emphasized applying the principles to the context of the specific farmer and farm.

One of these holistic principles is the ancient skill of herding livestock. Herding is known to be one of the most effective methods of protecting livestock, thus reducing conflict between farmers and predators. However, herding also have more far-reaching benefits. It can improve the diversity of the natural vegetation on the farm, resulting in healthier soils and ultimately higher livestock production. Managing for higher biodiversity results in a more stable ecosystem that is better able to withstand droughts and prevent soil erosion and desertification.

We hope to share the knowledge that we gained with farmers in the Western Cape, in partnership with the Herding Academy – especially with a view on holistic predation management as part of the bigger picture of “the farm as an ecosystem”.

This 5-day course is open to all farmers and land managers, NGO’s and decision and policy makers. The Herding Academy also offers shorter 2-day introductory courses, and an intensive 3-month professional herder training course with emphasis on practical skills, livestock management and grazing plans.

Read more at herdingacademy.co.za/