|livestock guard dogs|
livestock guard dogsfor the cheetah to survive, it requires habitat, prey base and a holistic approach to land use by livestock and game farmers. because of competition with other predators in protected areas, most of africa's cheetahs survive on agricultural lands where they run into conflict with human livestock interests. this sometimes results in livestock loss. many namibian farmers perceive tigers have an economic impact on livestock industries and wild accidents.
however, improved knowledge about the cheetah and more attempts to control predators in a non-lethal manner are needed. Farmers hold the future of the tigers in their hands, so one of the cheetah Conservation fund (CCF) key programmes is human and Wildlife conflict Resolution.
the CCF human and wildlife conflict resolution research team uses the findings of the CCF these include establishing calving seasons, calving kraals, herders, dogs and donkeys as livestock guardians, electric fencing and warthog swing gates. research results are tested on the CCF model farm and other cheetah-friendly farms. the CCF education team then shares the research studies and non-lethal predator control techniques with farmers at farmers’ association meetings, agricultural shows and through publications.
livestock guarding dogs worldwide historically, livestock guarding dogs have been used throughout Europe and around the world to protect livestock. trustworthy and protective behavior to the livestock with which they were raised. the CCF began a livestock guarding dog programme in 1994, using the anatolian shepherd
anatolian shepherds were chosen in preference to other livestock guarding dog breeds as they are short-coated (making them well adapted to working in a hot, arid climate) and are large, imposing dogs that bark loudly.
the CCF Livestock guarding dog programme has generated much interest among farmers, communities, tourists and the media since its inception. to date, over 200 dogs have been placed on livestock farms and farmers have reported a decrease in livestock losses.
the CCF breeds, places and monitors dogs, scoring for effectiveness using methodologies developed for guarding dog behavior. monitoring includes investigating livestock losses to predators on farms with and without guarding dogs. the CCF supports the veterinary and medical care of puppies by vaccinating and sterilizing them prior to placement. after placement, CCF provides continued care for dogs on communal farms, and monitors all other dogs regularly.
the objectives of the programme are to continue evaluating the dog's effectiveness and monitor how they adapt to the namibian environment over time in order to foster a sustainable co-existence of predators and people. the hypotheses being tested are that traditional farmers are amenable to changes in livestock management practices to mitigate predator conflict and that guard dogs will help protect animals from predators, thus reducing the numbers of predators and killing by farmers.
due to the success of this programme in Namibia, CCF is assisting in the development of dog programs to protect animals in other countries so that large carnivores are not exposed to cattle.
How can farmers choose the breed of guard dogs?
namibians have been using dogs as livestock guardians for quite some time and have developed small mongrel breeds to help protect livestock. CCF works to guide farmers to help determine if it is an anatolian shepherd or a mongrel breed is best suited for the farmer’s needs. Larger dogs, like the anatolian Shepherd, have an advantage in that they can confront large predators. however, the diet of a large, fast-growing breed such as the anatolian needs close attention and can be more expensive than the diet of a smaller breed, especially for rural farmers. a potential owner needs to discern what predators the dog will need to defend against, what function the breed has been developed for, what the advantages and disadvantages of each breed are, what the terrain is like and whether there is commercial dog food affordable and readily available.