Cattle in KwaZulu constitute the non-human wealth of western societies. In this role they provide consumable goods, investment and security. In view of this, reduction in the numbers of cattle to accommodate concern over the environment would result in a real loss of wealth and therefore welfare to the communities. In contrast the evidence supporting the recommendation is not robust enough to support so drastic an intervention. Further, the cost in terms of stock reduction in order to achieve relatively minor increases in cover are very great. If the case against destocking is accepted as valid, then planners will be able to concentrate on maximising the welfare derived by human populations from cattle, rather than the welfare of the grazing resource.
David R Tapson