Grazing System Management
& Karoo Biodiversity


Stock farmers in the Karoo region generally use two different grazing management systems, namely the group camp system of the Department of Agriculture or the Holistic Management Method of Allan Savory. The systems have animal rotation in common, but differ markedly in stocking rates and grazing periods.

Farmers using the group camp system stock according to Department of Agriculture rates whereas Holistic Management farmers often stock two or three times more than group camp system farmers. The aim of the group camp system is to utilize camps in a different seasons, based on the assumption that that the two main components of Karoo veld (shrubs and grasses) have different growing seasons. Accordingly, group camp farms have large camps that are grazed with small flocks for one to three months. The goal of this sytem is that camps are utilised in a different season every grazing period.

On the other hand, Holistic Management farmers have large flocks and farms are divided into small camps with central water points (hence the vernacular name "wagon wheels"). A Holistic farm will often have in excess of 100 camps, whereas a group camp farm of similar size will only have 10-20 camps. Flocks are large (sometimes over a thousand animals), but are only allowed to graze a camp for two to four days, and are often moved on a daily basis after rains to avoid damage to growing plants. Holistic Management aims to simulate the large game herds of the past and also to ensure even utilization of all components of the veld.


Both systems claim to be sustainable and to have benefits for conservation (mainly soil conservation). Holistic Management claims to minimise selective grazing, which may result in a decrease of palatable species. The benefits of the group camp system are thought to arise from the staggered, seasonally based rest periods.

Very little quantitative data exist to compare the merits of each system in terms of biodiversity conservation and maintainence of ecosystem functions. I will be comparing the impacts of the two systems on plant and insect diversity in the Beaufort West region. Several farms have been selected upon which vegetation and insect surveys will be conducted. The project also aims to look at the impact of distance from watering holes on vegetation.

Project executant Leon Theron
Mazda Wildlife Fund


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