Cheetah Conservation Fund

To be the internationally recognized centre of excellence in the conservation of cheetahs and their ecosystems. CCF will work with all stakeholders to develop best practices in research, education, and land use to benefit all species, including people. CCF works to: create and manage long-term conservation strategies for the cheetah; develop and implement livestock management practices that eliminate the need for ranchers to kill cheetah; conduct education programs for locals; continue research in genetics, biology, species survival
May 2, 2011

The hard reality of a livestock guarding dog's life

I'm sad to report that one of CCF's young Kangal guard dogs, Cazgir, died a few weeks ago. Cazgir had been imported to CCF from the United States to help build up the Kangal breeding lines. Cazgir was a victim of a disease that is causing serious problems with livestock guarding dogs in sub-Saharan Africa: lingual squamous cell carcinoma (or SCC of the tongue). SCC is much more prevalent in dogs in sub-Saharan Africa than in other parts of the world, probably due to damage caused from sun exposure. CCF is working hard to determine if there are other predisposing factors, such as nutrition and genetics, and we are also trying out various methods of early diagnosis and treatments. Because livestock guarding dogs are the greatest hope for the survival of cheetahs, we cannot abandon the program. We simply must find a way to stop SCC. We will keep you informed of the progress we make. In the meantime, we mourn the loss of Cazgir. These dogs are so much more than guard dogs to the staff. Thank you for your support of this very important program.

Feb 25, 2011

Next Four Captive Cheetahs To Be Rewilded?

The Four Scientists
The Four Scientists

Recently, when CCF’s keepers arrived at the pen of the Four Scientists (a group of four male cheetahs named Darwin, Fossey, Livingstone and Mendel) for their daily feeding, the cats were nowhere to be seen. This was HIGHLY unusual as the eager Scientists always are waiting at the gate for the feeding truck when it arrives. Concerned about the cats, we quickly drove into the 5-ha pen and began to search for them. We found them in the middle of one of the roads, and the reason for the Scientists absence was discovered. A young female kudu (a large antelope) had made the very poor decision to jump the fence into their enclosure and had been taken down by the four males.

Bite wounds around the kudu’s neck indicated that the boys had performed an efficient kill. This is very good news, considering that the four females who were in our rewilding bootcamp, Bellebenno, were recently released to their new home in a private reserve. Given their obvious hunting skills, the Scientists could be our next candidates for soft release into the Bellebenno game camp!

CCF's rewilding process involves moving a small, same-sex group of cheetahs into Bellebenno, where they can chase and bring down game. They are fed daily and monitored closely until they are feeding themselves consistently. After three or four months, the cats are radio-collared and moved to a wild area as far from livestock as possible. They spend a few days in a small enclosure so they can become acclimated to their new area, before being released. So far all the cheetahs that have gone through the rewilding process are doing very well.

As expensive as it is to keep a cheetah in capitivity, it's very costly to rewild one. Obviously though, we'd rather the cats were living in the wild. Your support not only helps us care for those cats that cannot be returned to the wild, but it also helps put captive cheetahs back into the wild and repopulate former range areas. Thank you!

Jan 31, 2011

New puppies flourishing

In 2010 we added four puppies to expand the livestock guarding dog breeding program at the Cheetah Conservation Fund's research station in Namibia. Aleya, the eldest of the four and imported from Germany, is now more legs than dog and promises to become an elegant Kangal when she grows into those legs! Chino--one of the puppies from the artificial insemination litter--is an exceptionally affectionate little Anatolian who greets us with enthusiasm every morning and patiently endures being checked for ticks. Our French duo, Firat and Feliz, have quickly become part of the dog/livestock family. This is especially true for young Firat who never wants to leave his herd and howls when separated from them. These four young dogs represent a bright future for our guarding dog programme, so their excellent progress as working dogs is especially encouraging. This year, we will continue to breed our adult dogs and hope to produce four litters: two from our Anatolian females, Uschi and Penda, and our first Kangal litters from Cazgir and Hediye. After her 2010 litter, Tylee was spayed and is now a staff pet. In her breeding days, she gave us 58 future livestock guarding dogs. If one guard dog can reduce predation on a livestock herd by 80-100%, thus negating the need for a farmer to shoot predators, imagine the impact she made during her "career." Thank you, Tylee.

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