The goat herd in areas bordering Botswana in Bulilima is threatened by menacing jackals, which are wreaking havoc at a time when the district is also losing hundreds of cattle to a crippling drought being experienced across the entire Matabeleland South Province.
Traditionally, goats are more drought tolerant than cattle and in some instances are being sold by villagers to buy supplementary feeding for the latter.
Goats sell at between ZAR450 and ZAR 1, 000 depending with size.
A visit to Bulilima on Wednesday revealed that while cattle were dying, goats remained in good condition.
However, villagers in areas such as Jutshume, a stone’s throw from the Zimbabwe/Botswana border, said there was nothing much to celebrate regarding goat farming as the predators were giving them a headache.
“Our major challenge here with goat rearing is jackals,” Naboth Nkomo, a villager in Jutshume told CITE.
“Jackals have almost wiped out our goats, meaning to say goat rearing is no longer attractive.”
He said while goats had survived the drought, the major threat remained jackals which prey on goats both during the day while grazing and at night while in kraals.
Martha Ncube, a village head in Bambadzi said the problem of jackals, which also attack chickens at night, had been ongoing for quite some time, adding last year she also lost 11 goats to jackals.
At least 97 percent of the estimated over 3 million national goat herd is owned by smallholder farmers.
According to the Department of Agriculture Research and Extension Services at Matopo Research Centre, common goat breeds in the country include the Matabele, Mashona, the Boer goat and the Kalahari.
Other factors hindering goat farming include high kid mortality and lack of good animal husbandry practices.