Historical changes in stocking rates of domestic livestock as a measure of semi-arid and arid rangeland degradation in the Cape Province, South Africa
Author: WRJ Dean and IAW MacDonald
Publication: Journal of Arid Environments, vol. 26 pp 281-298
In semi-arid and arid magisterial (administrative) districts (n = 45) in the Cape Province, South Africa, there has been a mean 44·4 ± 14·6% (S.D.) reduction in the stocking rates of domestic livestock over the period 1911-81. In five savanna districts there has been a mean 36·8 ± 8·5% increase in stocking rate. For all districts during the period 1911-30 the mean stocking rate was 12·5 ± 8·6 large stock units/100 ha, and for 1971-81 the mean rate was 8·4 ± 7·7 LSU/100 ha (one bovid weighing 420 kg = 1 LSU). The reduction in stocking rate differs significantly between biomes and shows a general trend towards being greater in the more arid districts. The reduction is significantly greater in the succulent Karoo where seven of eight districts have experienced stocking rate reductions > 50%. Districts with a rainfall variability index > 4·0 (i.e. with lowest recorded rain only 25% or less of highest recorded rain) show a significant trend towards larger reductions in stocking rate than do all the other districts.