Environmental Goods & Services (EGS) News
Woolworths Trust Launches Guidelines for Predator-Friendly Farming - 1 October 2008
In the latest step in its campaign to introduce predator-friendly meat to the South African market, Woolworths has just released a comprehensive set of guidelines called "Predators on Livestock Farms: A Practical Manual for Non-Lethal, Holistic, Ecologically Acceptable and Ethical Management". The book is sponsored by the Woolworths Trust, which last year donated funds to the Landmark Foundation to facilitate its publication.
Says Tom McLaughlin, trustee of the Woolworths Trust, "There is still significant persecution of predators such as leopards, caracals, jackals, eagles and vultures in South Africa. We have been actively working with conservation and agriculture groups for some time in an effort to put an end to the use of inhumane methods of predator control by livestock farmers and are very excited about the publication of these guidelines."
The manual will be introduced to farmers at a series of one-day workshops and will be introduced to Woolworths suppliers on a one-to-one basis.
The publication of these predator-friendly guidelines marks an important milestone in Woolworths Good business journey. Woolworths has pledged its commitment to environmental conservation and the preservation of our natural biodiversity as part of this comprehensive 5-year plan which is seeing the retailer fundamentally change the way it does business in order to accelerate transformation, drive social development, enhance its environmental focus and address climate change.
Director of the Landmark Foundation, Dr Bool Smuts, who authored the guidelines, says: "Thanks to the foresight and commitment of Woolworths, we have now been able to introduce a code of conduct which helps farmers identify predators and teaches humane methods of predator management. As conservationists we cannot do this alone. We are delighted that Woolworths has joined forces with our cause - not only in terms of funding, but by educating their suppliers and their customers about the vital need to protect South Africa's biodiversity."
It's not only in South Africa that Woolworths is encouraging farmers to use humane predator control methods. For example, Woolworths free range beef is farmed in Namibia to strict European standards by farmers who sign a declaration that they have not used gin traps, poisons or pack hunting to control predators.
Woolworths' commitment to predator friendly meat does not stop with the production of the manual; the retailer is also funding the placement of 10 Anatolian Shepherd guard dogs with sheep farmers around the country. Five puppies have already been placed. Woolworths is funding not only the breeding and training of these 10 dogs, but also their upkeep and feeding for the first year as well as quarterly follow-up and support visits by Cheetah Outreach.
The Anatolian Shepherd is not a herding dog; the breed that has been used in Turkey to guard livestock from predators - including wolves - for some 5000 years and has been identified in the manual as one of the proposed humane options for South African farmers to protect their livestock from predators.
The dogs are being bred as part of an on-going trial in association with DeWildt Cheetah & Wildlife Trust and Cheetah Outreach, which have been breeding Anatolians and placing them on farms in the range of the free-ranging cheetah in South Africa since 2005. According to Cheetah Outreach's Annie Beckhelling, they've had an over 90% success rate in protecting sheep and goats from predators including cheetah, leopard, caracal, jackal and hyena.
"While our predator policy and approach is only the first step on a long journey, we're confident that it will prove successful so that farmers will be able to stop using poisons, gin traps and other inhumane methods to protect their livestock," says Chan Pillay, Woolworths Trading Head of Meat, Poultry, Seafood & Dairy. "We're pleased to be playing a role in the protection of endangered species."