A review of possibilities for using animal tracking devices to mitigate stock theft in smallholder livestock farming systems in rural South Africa

  • S. Zantsi
  • T. Nkunjana
Keywords: GPS, Agricultural extension, integrative review, stock theft


Stock theft is among the major challenges faced by livestock farmers in South Africa. It has severe consequences especially for smallholder farmers, who collectively own a large share of the South African livestock herds but individually keep small herds. In recent years, technological improvements and innovations have made it possible to track livestock movements by using GPS animal tracking devices. Low-cost GPS has been developed and used elsewhere and in the local commercial sector. Given the well-known role of extension, i.e. information and technology dissemination, the possibility that smallholders adopt GPS animal tracking devices should be evaluated. However, very few studies have made a case for using this technology in curbing stock theft among smallholder farmers. This review therefore addresses the likelihood that smallholder livestock farmers in South Africa adopt GPS animal tracking devices to mitigate the impact of stock theft. Using a semi-systematic and a snowball literature review approach, we consulted and reviewed the relevant literature and official statistics relating to stock theft and smallholder livestock farming. Results from the reviewed literature suggest that the likelihood of GPS animal tracking device adoption by smallholders will depend on a) the awareness about the devices and how they work, b) the acuteness of stock theft for a farmer and how livestock contributes the farmer’s livelihood, and c) the income level, access to mobile phones and risk behaviour of farmers. Our literature findings identify areas for future research and may help agricultural extension personnel with future research topics.


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