You are here: CSS Focus Areas * Focus Area 7: Livestock theft

Tell A Friend

Focus Area 7: Livestock theft prevention

The paramount objectives of red meat producers in the world are a sustainable, profitable and humane production of livestock in the conquest amongst others to ensure food security.  Obstacles for the red meat producer in search of the conquest is regarded as economical in nature and caused by two major external factors namely animal health and direct financial losses. This research area deals with livestock theft as direct financial losses to red meat producers.  Determining the impact and consequences of the direct losses on red meat producers is challenging as there is a serious inadequacy of research on the topics of livestock theft in South Africa. 

The inadequacy of research is not limited to South Africa but an international phenomenon. Regarding livestock theft, there are very few scientific publications in southern Africa although livestock theft has been addressed extensively in popular journals only scientific studies have been conducted on the topic. These publications focus on livestock theft in Kwazulu Natal in 2003, another using Lesotho as a focal point in 2006 and one in 2013 focusing on The Extent of Livestock Theft in South Africa and another in 2015 focusing on The role of social media in combating livestock theft.

Livestock theft is an ancient criminal offence and a persistent problem for the red meat producer, notwithstanding in South Africa very few research has been done on the topic. The Red Meat Research Development Trust (RMRDT) recognises this neglect and decided to include the topic as a research focus area. The RMRDT research focus areas regarding livestock is in accordance with the definition of stock in the Stock Theft Act, (Act 57 of 1959) which defines livestock as “any horse, mule, ass, bull, cow, ox, heifer, calf, sheep, goat, pig, poultry, domesticated ostrich, domesticated game or the carcase or portion of the carcase of any such stock”. This will also include the poaching wildlife for research purposes. 

Currently, cattle, sheep and goats comprise roughly 87% of all livestock stolen in South Africa and require the attention of researchers. The losses of the specific red meat species due to livestock theft varies from species to species month to month and year to year. The number of species stolen has a direct impact on the economic value and losses of producers and varies accordingly. The current estimates are that livestock theft contributes to approximately R500 million to producers but this estimate does not provide for the losses within the whole criminal justice system. An alarming conclusion is that according to Statistics South Africa only 25 to 30% of all livestock theft cases are reported. 

Research in this area should aim to describe and compare explain and develop theoretical aspects such as the criminal justice communities lack to implement an appropriate investigative support system for livestock theft cases. This is a niche field, where knowledgeable forensic support is often unavailable.


A - Institutional memory, which is best contained in a national system of coordinated and livestock theft prevention

B - Best Management practise (BMP)

C - Causal factors and livestock prevention

D - Appropriate content and methodology for training

E - Appropriate content and methodology for extension

F - DNA Technology and Services

G - Infrastructure equipment and practices for animal production

Follow this link for more information about each component and the OUTCOME numbers

Updated June2019