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Help Dogs Save Cats

by Cheetah Conservation Fund
Help Dogs Save Cats
Help Dogs Save Cats
Help Dogs Save Cats
Help Dogs Save Cats
Help Dogs Save Cats
Help Dogs Save Cats
Help Dogs Save Cats
Help Dogs Save Cats
Help Dogs Save Cats
Help Dogs Save Cats
Help Dogs Save Cats
Help Dogs Save Cats
Help Dogs Save Cats
Lisboa and Calum
Lisboa and Calum

The Cheetah Conservation Fund’s ‘Model Farm’ has been an integral part in mitigating human – wildlife conflict here in Namibia. We invite farmers from all over Namibia to come and understand our successful practices and encourage them to take ideas back to their own farms. Here, we promote livestock management as well as our Livestock Guarding Dog Program.

Recently, we have had a very special addition to our LGD program in the form of a new Anatolian Shepherd. The new eight month old female, Lisboa, was kindly donated by a generous donor and with the help from the the Jardim Zoologico de Lisboa in Portugal, and arrived here at CCF on Wednesday 2nd October. She has settled in very well and quickly and has become a staff and intern favourite with her sweet temperament and stunning looks. When she is older, she will become a pivotal part of our breeding program here at CCF. Her future puppies will help to make a real difference to farmers from across Namibia and who knows maybe further afield!

Lisboa’s arrival coincided with the opening of our new breeding pens, which have been named ‘The Penda Memorial Breeding Pens’ after a very special dog which recently passed away. Penda was an integral part of our breeding program during her time at CCF and then a much-loved pet when she was retired. She lived to the great age of 14 and during her breeding years helped over 50 farmers with dogs to protect their livestock. It seemed only apt that we name the new breeding pens after her. These new pens further cement CCF’s position in wanting to help the local communities, and in turn reduce human – wildlife conflict. With currently 20-30 puppies going out to farms each year, the six new pens allow us to double the amount of breeding individuals we can house, in turn increasing the number of placement puppies each year to around 70. This will be beneficial in helping our three-year waiting list of farmers who have heard about the program’s success.

The ‘Model Farm’ which has grown from strength to strength each year promotes the importance of livestock management in helping reduce livestock losses by 60%. We currently house 105 Boer Goats and 122 Damara Fat Tailed sheep which are the main form of livestock here in Namibia and are used for meat production. It is the high fencing and security of the kraal which is fundamental in keeping out any unwanted predators during the night as well as the loud barking of the dogs. Furthermore, the breeding of livestock at one time of the year (breeding season), allowing group raising of young in goat camps around the kraal until they’re big enough to go out with the herd, helps with this reduction in livestock losses. Finally, the importance of health checks on all of our livestock, both in the morning prior to release into the veld and in the afternoon once they’ve returned, also aids in decreasing livestock loss, as any injuries or illness can be treated promptly.

Both juvenile and ill/injured goat/sheep are very easy meals for any predator in the area! Here, at CCF we also house over 100 dairy goats (which originated from South Africa) to show farmers there is another form of income. and we use our goat’s milk it to make all sorts of cheeses, as well as various flavours of fudges and ice cream to name a few. We recently were donated a new yogurt creamery from our Turkish partners, the Turkish development agency, TIKA.

As part of the ‘Model Farm’ we promote the LGD program; the success of the dogs has resulted in a 80-100% reduction in livestock losses to the farmers who have the dogs. The breed, the Anatolian and Kangal Shepherd originated from two regions in Turkey and when Dr Marker started the programme in 1994 she identified these as ideal breeds for the program due to the similar terrain and temperature in Turkey (high desert) and because they were used to guard against bears and wolves over 5,000 years ago. With them working so well, we have monitored and researched the breed over the 25 years the program has been running. They have a lifespan of 12 – 15 years which is exceptional for a large breed and continue working into their teens. The dogs run perimeter checks when out with the herd, marking their territory; this smell of another predator (the dog) in the area is enough to deter most predators. If something does come closer the dog will stand between the herd and the predator and bark loudly and this takes away the easiness of the meal.

CCF’s breeding program is integral, helping the Namibian farmers in this manner. These dogs can have litters of average 8 puppies, and as with Lisboa, who came to us all the way from Portugal, we bring in dogs from countries outside of Namibia to maintain a strong genetic bloodline within our population of dogs, leading to the healthiest puppies possible. These puppies will grow up at CCF until they are 11 weeks of age, at which time they have been vaccinated, and neuters and are then placed on farms to begin the initial bonding process with the herd they will be guarding. They grow up within the herd and start going out with them at about 3 months of age, starting with half days and building up to full days. We conduct 3 month, 6 month and subsequent yearly visits to carry out check-ups and vaccinations on the dog. We currently have 165 dogs out on farms that we monitor regularly as well as the 17 at CCF. This is a mammoth task. However, with the help of an impressive team of Stella Emvula and Gebhardt Nikanor this becomes a much easier task and to date this program has placed 651 dogs!

I describe the LGD section as the best section of CCF. These dogs are the individuals who will truly be keeping Cheetahs in the wild safe. We are saving cheetahs one dog at a time!

 

 

New Dancing Goat Creamery and CCF Staff
New Dancing Goat Creamery and CCF Staff
Lisboa and Calum by termite mound
Lisboa and Calum by termite mound

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Laurie Marker with Anatolian Puppies
Laurie Marker with Anatolian Puppies

This is a very special year for CCF. Our Livestock Guarding Dog program began 25 years ago in February. CCF has decided to celebrate the program anniversary by naming 2019 the Year of the Livestock Guarding Dog. The program holds a special place in my heart. It has been incredibly successful at mitigating human/wildlife conflict not only in Namibia but across the cheetah’s current range.

In the late 70’s, when I was working at Wildlife Safari in Oregon, I became aware of a study happening on local livestock farms. The study was part of a project attempting to address the predation of livestock (specifically sheep) by coyotes in the USA. The study was part of a research partnership between Oregon State University and Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. The two universities were collecting data on Livestock Guarding Dog effectiveness in Oregon as part of a nationwide project lead by Dr. Raymond and Lorna Coppinger.

In March of 1988, following ten years of research, a paper was published – A Decade of Use of Livestock Guarding Dogs. The three main breeds of dogs used by farmers participating in the study were Maremma, Anatolian shepherd, and Shar Planinetz. All have a long history of guarding livestock across Europe. The research paper revealed that participating farmers using a Livestock Guarding Dog, experienced significant decreases in livestock loss due to predation. These results were very interesting to me as I had witnessed first-hand, nearly a decade before, that cheetahs were being killed by farmers in Namibia as a measure to protect livestock.

When I began CCF in 1990, I knew that I wanted to join the study to see if Livestock Guarding Dogs would be as effective in preventing predation in Africa as they had been in the US. I reached out to Hampshire College and in 1994 we set up a pilot Livestock Guarding Dog (LGD) Program on one of the farms in our research area.

Anatolian shepherds were chosen for many reasons. The breed has a 6,000-year pedigree and history of guarding sheep in Turkey. Their short coats protect them from thorns and bushes being caught in their coats, and make it easier for them to adapt to fluctuating temperatures – both hot and cold. Their independent nature and ability to think for themselves means they don’t need to have people with them to successfully guard their livestock. They were the best choice for the conditions faced on Namibian farmlands. They have the will and drive to travel vast distances with their herd due to their natural loyalty and endurance.

In February, 1994, four Anatolian shepherds, the breed of dogs used in the research that took place in Oregon, were established with herds of sheep and goats here in Namibia. The dogs were donated by the Birinci Kennels in the USA.

To familiarize the Namibian farming community with the program, we held several talks with the Farmers Association. We recognized the importance of engaging directly within the community and made farmer outreach the primary objective to build trust in our first four years of operation. A Hampshire College student, Becky Sartini, monitored the program for a five-month period as a part of her honors thesis.

In June of 1994, CCF and Hampshire College brought in a second student, Katie Emanuel. Katie’s family owned Birinci Kennels and they had donated the first 4 dogs, and she brought another six Anatolian shepherds from their kennels. She also conducted her honors thesis at CCF. All but one were puppies of less than 15 weeks of age, and they were placed on six farms. One was an adult female which we were able to breed later in the year. In August, 11 Anatolian puppies were born at CCF’s base and the puppies were placed in farms at the end of September.

Since the program began, CCF has trained and placed over 650 Livestock Guarding Dogs in Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania. The dogs even guarded the goats belonging to Namibia’s Founding President, HE Dr. Sam Nujoma, and were also placed at two of Namibia’s agricultural colleges, so students could learn more about predator-friendly farming techniques. Farmers who employ a CCF LGD report an 80-100% reduction in livestock losses and while the dogs were intended to protect livestock from cheetahs, we found that they are equally effective in guarding against other predators like leopard, jackal and caracal.

The success of the program has inspired several hundred stories in publications and multiple documentary film crews have come from around the world to take footage of the dogs in action. Recently the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation showed a feature on Livestock Guarding Dogs, interviewing farmers about the effectiveness of the program on their farms.

I hope you will join me and hundreds of Namibian farmers in celebrating the 25th anniversary of CCF’s Livestock Guarding Dog Program this year. Please consider supporting the future of the program by becoming a sponsor during 2019, the Year of the Livestock Guarding Dog.

Anatolian Shepard with Goat Herd
Anatolian Shepard with Goat Herd
Anatolian Shepard Puppies
Anatolian Shepard Puppies

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Livestock Guard dog with goats
Livestock Guard dog with goats

In 1994, Laurie Marker embarked on an experiment to determine if livestock guarding dogs – the same kind used in Turkey for 5,000 years — could be effective in reducing predation losses for small stock farmers in Namibia. Today, some 25 years and 650 livestock guarding dogs later, our program celebrates its landmark silver anniversary, and Cheetah Conservation Fund Livestock Guarding Dogs (CCF LGDs) have gained an international reputation as the world’s best protectors of Namibian goats and sheep! 

Known for their imposing physical presence, fierce bark, and loyal, protective nature, our livestock guarding dogs function as a buffer between small stock like goats and sheep and wildlife sharing farmland habitat. They deter most would-be predators with their presence alone, alleviating pressure on farmers to trap or shoot predators on sight. In Namibia, they are credited with saving hundreds of cheetah and other predator lives. 

Before our dogs, farmers were removing 700-800 cheetah a year from the Namibian landscape. They regarded cheetah as pests that have a severe negative impact on livestock farming and the wild game industry. I wrote about this conflict is a research paper published by the Zoological Society of London in 1996, Conservation Strategies for the long-term survival of the Cheetah. In the article, Laurie Marker wrote about the need to engage with local farmers to save the species, 

“The survival of the Namibian Cheetah is in the hands of approximately 1,000 commercial farmers and their willingness to integrate Cheetah conservation efforts into farm management.” 

This was true then, and it is still true today. Laurie would like to thank all Namibian small stock farmers who have agreed to work with CCF and our Livestock Guarding Dogs over the past 25 years, especially the pioneers who were there from the beginning helping us develop the program. Without them, we would not have reached this milestone.

Paige Seitz is our Livestock Guarding Dog Program Manager in Namibia. She juggles caring for pregnant mothers and multiple litters of puppies with assisting farmers seeking placements of our dogs. She has been with CCF for five years, and does an amazing job, as have our previous dog managers. All of them have cared deeply for the dogs, the farmers and cheetahs.

Toivo Tyapa joined us in 2011 as Small Stock Manager on our Model Farm. His interactions with our dogs and CCF’s smallstock dairy herd inform our Future Farmers of Africa trainings, and Tyapa’s recommendations improve our LGD program (yes, Tyapa is his last name, and that’s how we refer to him at CCF — his preference).

Gebhardt ‘Gebs’ Nikanor has been with CCF since 2001, working with our dogs as an Education Officer. Gebs places the dogs on the farms and is the person who remains in contact with farmers to check on each dog’s progress. He has been with us so long, it feels like he’s been with us since the beginning of the program, or almost.

Armas Shaanika is CCF’s chief goat herder, and he is the best herder in the world! And he knows our dogs inside and out. Think of him as the ‘Livestock Guarding Dog Whisperer.’ He and I recognized each other as ‘animal people’ and immediately bonded when we placed one of our first dogs with him back in 1996.

CCF’s herd is made up of Boer goats, Damara sheep and Saanen dairy goats that total just over 300 animals. Those animals are housed together with our Livestock Guarding Dogs overnight. As part of their training, Armas takes turns bringing the dogs out to the bush with our smallstock herd during the day. He evaluates our young dogs on their field work and assesses whether rehomed dogs are ready to go back to work. Armas is a Namibian conservation superstar by accident, an almost-divine intervention whose presence has been a real blessing! Without him, we would not know the true potential of our CCF Livestock Guarding Dogs.

Most importantly of all, our dogs would not have become a success without you. Your support over the past 25 years has kept our program going strong. Your donations have enabled us to grow in Namibia, and at the same time, have helped launch sister LGD programs in three additional African nations, South Africa, Tananzia and Botswana.

Over the past 25 years, CCF Livestock Guarding Dogs have become the Namibian small stock farmer’s best employee. They are also CCF’s most vital, ‘paws on the ground’ partner in cheetah conservation. Please help us celebrate these amazing working dogs by sharing news about our dogs with your family, friends and social networks. Bark out loud for CCF Livestock Guarding Dogs in 2019!

On behalf of Namibian farmers, their small stock, and cheetahs and other predators spared by CCF Livestock Guarding Dogs, thank you for supporting our program.

 

Tyapa, Page and Gebs
Tyapa, Page and Gebs
Tyapa on the left, Armas on the right
Tyapa on the left, Armas on the right

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Spots the Guard Dog
Spots the Guard Dog

On September 30, 2018, we had to say goodbye to one of our beloved livestock guarding dogs, Spots. Spots was the star of CCF, modeling for photos, taking part in films, and working extremely hard to protect his herd of goats and sheep.  On the morning of September 30, 2018, he had to run at top speed to get to his herd and follow them for the day, but unfortunately, we believe his heart gave out by the time he reached them. Spots was becoming an old man at the age of 10 and began showing his age, but he still loved working more than anything in the world. Every Sunday he was super excited to go out with his herd and while we are incredibly sad that he has passed away, it is some consolation that he died doing what he loved best. 

Spots was part of CCF's renowned Livestock Guarding Dog Program that has been highly effective at reducing predation rates and thereby reducing the inclination by farmers to trap or shoot cheetahs. 

CCF’s renowned Livestock Guarding Dog Program has been highly effective at reducing predation rates and thereby reducing the inclination by farmers to trap or shoot cheetahs. CCF breeds Anatolian shepherd and Kangal dogs, breeds that for millennia have guarded small livestock against wolves and bears in Turkey. The dogs are placed with Namibian farmers as puppies. They bond with the herd and use their imposing presence and loud bark to scare away potential predators.

CCF has been placing dogs since 1994 and our research shows that dogs are highly effective, reducing livestock loss from all predators by over 80 and up to 100 percent.  Farmers adopt CCF dogs and participate in education on how to train the dog. CCF does on site follow up visits to ensure the dogs have proper training and medical care and are settling into their guardian role. Farmers have enthusiastically embraced the program, and there is now a two-year waiting list for puppies, which makes these dog's role even more important to CCF's Livestock Guarding Dog Breeding Program.

Thank you Spots for giving CCF so many years of your life and being the best working dog ever and the gentlest soul we know! We will miss you, but will always remember the star of our program. Rest in peace our strong guardian.

Livestock Guard Dogs
Livestock Guard Dogs

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Bully
Bully

Our newest breeding male in the Livestock Guarding Dog is turning two this June! Bolt, who was named by CCF supporters during the 2016 Summer Olympics, has already fathered 44 puppies (24M, 20F). Bolt came to CCF at 11 weeks old, from Taylor Farms in Texas, USA. His mother and father are both originally from Turkey, meaning our LGD program is benefiting from new bloodlines.

Bolt’s first litter was born on 2 July 2017. Lady, the mother of the pups, came to CCF in 2011 from a farm in South Africa. She was the first female to be bred with Bolt and it’s been exciting for us to see how the puppies have grown into their roles as LGDs. Three of the puppies, Bully, Nina and Goatie were part of the Tusk Trust Grant Opuwo project which helped with the placement of puppies in the Opuwo district in North West Namibia.

Bully was placed on a communal farm in the West of Namibia.  He is in excellent condition at 6 months of age.  He works with a herder, someone who escorts the livestock for grazing, and two mongrels.  He barks when strangers approach the livestock.  He is well cared for by workers.  The farmer has expreiened no losses since Bully has been guarding the herd.

Nina was placed on a commercial farm in the south of Namibia and works in a camp, a large fenced in area where livestock graze, with goats.  She appears to be part of the stock and works well.  The farmer is very satidfied with Nina since she was placed with him.

Goatie was placed on a commercial farm in the south of Namibia.  The farmer received the Goatie since the current anatolian is getting old and will soon retire.  The older Anatolian and Goatie work together with a herder.

Overall, all of the litter is working well on their farms and the farmers are satisfied with the progress of the puppies. 

Nina
Nina
Goatie
Goatie

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Organization Information

Cheetah Conservation Fund

Location: Alexandria, VA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Cheetah Conservation
Project Leader:
Shannon Sharp
Operations Director
Alexandria, VA United States
$13,689 raised of $20,000 goal
 
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