Animals
 Namibia
Project #2578

Help Dogs Save Cats

by Cheetah Conservation Fund
Vetted
Spots working with the LSGD
Spots working with the LSGD

Seeing Spots

Spots is not your average Livestock Guarding Dog. First, he is from the Netherlands. He came to CCF about 9 or 10 years ago from a partner big cat organization called Stichting SPOTS (Save and Protect Our Treasures). Second, his life is anything but average. Besides being a worldly, well-traveled canine, Spots loves to work and is known to be something of a teacher. So when CCF received a telephone call from a farmer with problem cheetahs who was considering shooting the animals as his next move, CCF offered to loan him Spots services as a Livestock Guarding Dog, a non-lethal and albeit temporary alternative.

The farmer, who is also a leader within the Namibian Agricultural Union, gladly accepted and Spots has been working in the field since last November. So far, Spots has successfully discouraged predation, and no cheetahs have lost their lives. Spots will remain on the farm until CCF has a Livestock Guarding Dog puppy to give the farmer, then Spots will come back to CCF. But before he does, Spots will help raise the puppy, imparting his excellent work ethic and guarding dog skills as the pup’s role model.

New Pens for Pups

In attempt to keep up with the demand for puppies, we have been producing more litters of Livestock Guarding Dogs than ever. This is great news for farmers and cheetahs, but not so much for the dogs that live here on our model farm. We are at capacity with our dog housing facilities. We need to build three more dog pens ASAP to accommodate all of the new puppies we will be expecting soon.

Herkul, Herkul!

It’s hard to believe, but it’s true -- our ambassador-in-training Livestock Guarding Dog Herkul just turned six months old. From the appearance of this strapping young fellow, you would never think he had such a difficult time entering this world, or that he was the sole survivor from a litter of four, fighting just to stay alive. Today, Herkul spends his time practicing the social skills necessary for him to successfully interact with the public.  He also spends time hanging out with other CCF dogs on the ambassador track, like scat sniffing dog Finn. Getting older, Finn is no longer working full time in the field and is being groomed as an ambassador representing the scat-sniffing dog program. His calm demeanor and even temperament provide a good behavior model for Herkul, and hopefully this will rub off. The good news is this lovable pup is excellent with people and other dogs and is already exhibiting signs of having the right type of personality to become a successful ambassador. This and the fact that he began his training at an early age, give him a leg up on the competition – plus it certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s so darn handsome!

Keeping Score in Hereroland

It’s been a little more than a year since CCF began work in Hereroland with the Greater Waterberg Landscape Initiative, bringing Future Farmers of Africa training courses and veterinary expertise to rural farming communities in this remote area. So far, all signs are pointing to success.

“Every month in eight villages, CCF staff offered trainings -- a total of 82 in 2015 -- and the response we received was overwhelmingly positive,” said Dr. Laurie Marker. “Part of what we found is that farmers really appreciated the information we provided for them. We determined that about 65% of losses could be resolved through better livestock management, meaning better livelihoods are in their own hands.”

Through the trainings, CCF staff found the basic veterinary care they were teaching – things like hoof trimming, de-worming, and vaccinations -- were not getting done for most livestock animals. All are simple procedures, yet critical for good health.

“Before we came along, no one ever helped the farmers learn about this or other basic livestock care,” said Andrew Di Salvo, CCF Veterinarian.

To encourage farmers to engage in better livestock management practices, Dr. Di Salvo and a veterinary student visited the farms in the region. While there, they assessed the farmer’s operations and checked on the animals, discussing any problems and offering advice on how to fix. During each visit, Dr. Di Salvo and his assistant assigned a rating to the farmer and recorded it on a scorecard to track his or her progress. On subsequent farm visits, the farmer will be assessed on how well he or she implemented CCF’s advice in order to achieve a higher score.

“Better quality livestock will bring in better price,” Said Dr. Marker. “We will focus on improving this area for the next five years, and we will train paravets at CCF from each of the eight focal areas -- people who are interested in animal healthcare – to help us get the scores up.”

New dog pens!
New dog pens!
Herkul
Herkul
A pup with dogs
A pup with dogs

Links:

New Mommy
New Mommy

This year, CCF has had 41 puppies born from a total of 5 litters. Only 27 of the 41 have been placed on farms as 5 were stillborns, 1 will stay at CCF as an ambassador dog, and the remaining 8 will go out to their new farms around mid-January. Another female, Repet, is due at the end of December, with her puppies going out in the beginning of March. These puppies will all be a part of the field of conservation by helping to save the wild cheetah by protecting farmers' livestock from predation and in return the farmers allowing predators to live freely and safely on their land.

The 8 puppies, still at CCF, are from our female Karibib and they are getting bigger by the day and have just opened their eyes. The puppies' ears are also opening and they have begun walking around their house. The puppy house is now filled with wobbly puppies and the sounds of howls as they can finally hear themselves and are quite impressed with their own sounds.

In other puppy news, our little survivor Hercules is growing up big and strong. He is now 4 months old and 15 kg. He has also proved his great ambassador skills by helping to welcome the Turkish Ambassador and the TIKA (Turkish International Cooperation Development Agency) team when they came to visit CCF to donate a car for the dog programme. This car will allow the dog programme to accomplish regular visits to the farms that house placed working dogs to check on their health and training.

Besides having TIKA come for a visit, we also had the German breeders who donated our female Kangal, Aleya, visit for a few days. They were very happy with Aleya's attitude towards her work and were so excited to give her some hugs and belly scratches. They even got to see one of her puppies that recently went out, at his farm. They are very interested in possibly donating another dog to CCF next year, which will be another asset to CCF's breeding programme.

CCF has had a lot of great things happen for the dog programme this year and we hope this success continues in 2016. Thanks to everyone for all of your support!

Proud mom and her puppies
Proud mom and her puppies
Hercules is growing fast!
Hercules is growing fast!

Links:

Puppies that were placed with farmers in August
Puppies that were placed with farmers in August

 We are sending you a special update to let you know that from Monday, 21 September through Friday, 25 September, GlobalGiving will be offering a one-time 100% match on all new recurring donations up to $200 per donor! To qualify for the match, donors must give at least four consecutive months.

We know this is a bigger commitment to ask of you, but we are very excited, because this is an easy way to double the amount of your donation, and double the impact of your gift! In recognition of your support, we will even offer a special limited edition cheetah print!

Sign up on between Monday, 21 September and Friday, 25 September to qualify and get your cheetah artwork!

To set up a recurring donation, follow the links below to your favorite CCF project page!

Help Dogs Save Cats!

As you may have heard, we recently released our Carnivore Tracker App. We have some more news to share!

The Farmer Carnivore Help Hotline number is for farmers across Namibia to be able to contact The Cheetah Conservation Fund directly 24/7 to freely discuss any issues relating to cheetahs and other carnivores on their farms. These issues can include a problem animal and livestock predation to wanting to gain further information on carnivore ecology.

The farmer hotline was set up in January 2015 and since then has received a steady number of calls that relate not just to cheetahs but also leopards and African wild dogs. The hope is that by sharing CCF’s 25 years of experience with dealing with human-wildlife conflict farmers have a person, in this case the CCF ecology manager, Dr. Louisa Richmond-Coggan to talk to about their issues. The cases reported so far have ranged from a cheetah being caught inside a cage trap on a farm to species identification and best practice for livestock management. Advice is tailored individually to the farmer’s circumstances such as livestock and carnivore species involved as one mitigation method does not fit all. CCF also liaises with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to ensure that their policies and regulation are followed.

The aim is to share current research findings with the farming communities to enable them to better understand carnivore ecology, biology, prey preferences, hunting behaviour as having this knowledge allows farmers to better their livestock and in turn reduce loss. For example it has been determined that black-backed jackals live in pairs (male/female) they will defend a territory and keep out other jackals. When this pair is killed their territory is taken over by multiple pairs and in turn sustainably increasing the number of jackals in the area and potentially conflict issues. This is also the case for cheetahs and leopards, removal of one leads to an increase in the number of subsequent individuals found across the same territory.

During the conversation it can be determined if the farmer could benefit from having a livestock guarding dog (LSGD), based upon the issues they are having on their farm. The dog application is completed over the phone and passed onto our LSGD manager, their application the gets recorded and scored. Calls are often passed onto the LSGD manager to share their advice and experience on interim solutions before they receive a dog. Some farmers have been visited as their location was close by to farms were already designated for LSGD checks to discuss their issues in more detail.

Additional information collected through the phone call is presence points of numerous carnivores across Namibia. This information gets feed into the Environmental Information Service, Mammal Atlas and The Large Carnivore Management Association of Namibia which ensures that the information gets to the necessary specialist working groups. CCF has created a human-wildlife conflict database into which information gathered from different sources gets linked to ensure we have a current and detailed overview of issues occurring across Namibia.

The farmer phone combines the knowledge and experiences collected over the years across its programmes; ecology, LSGDs and education, making it a truly multidisciplinary approach to human-carnivore conflict across Namibia with the sole aim to secure the long-term survival of the cheetah and other carnivore populations now and into the future.

Links:

The Little Puppy
The Little Puppy

August 8th, 6 am –

A lone puppy was born. One of a litter of four, his three litter mates did not survive.

After being up all night with Isha I knew that there was something wrong and at about 5:30 am Dr. Bruce Brewer our general manager, our vet Dr. Andrew Di Salvo, Grace Warner our vet nurse and Teresia Robitschko my Personal Assistant were all on standby. We left for Otjiwarongo shortly thereafter and after a 45 minute drive, the vet at the clinic in town was ready and waiting. She performed a C-section immediately – the first C-section in the history of CCF’s Livestock Guarding Dog Program. This puppy was stuck in the birth canal but he made it through the travel to town without any issues. – Dr. Laurie Marker Founder/Executive Director Cheetah Conservation Fund

Two of the puppies were stillborn in spite of the emergency C-section. Two survived but one was so weak that he passed away after several days of medical care, leaving this one surviving special puppy. The good news is that he and his mother are doing great!

puppyandmom

When he grows up this little survivor will most likely be a Livestock Guarding Dog Ambassador. He will have the chance to go out with our community outreach team, teaching communities how to take care of their livestock and informing them about our Livestock Guarding Dog Program that mitigates human-wildlife conflict. The puppy may even travel to these communities with our vet Dr. Andrew who helped save his life.

puppyintext

We wanted to give our supporters the opportunity to help us name this special pup whose parents are Isha and Firat. We had an option of 9 names, submitted by Laurie and our Staff in Namibia.

The contest is finished! The winning name will be announced in the Fall 2015 issue of Cheetah Strides. You can still help. If you would like to donate to our Livestock Guarding Dog Program please support this cause!

Karabash – Meaning: Black Head. It symbolizes being big in body and big in power. A very respectable name and very common for big powerful dogs in Turkey.

Pasha – Meaning: High-ranking soldier. It symbolizes to power and dignity and is a very fashionable name in Namibia.

Birki – Meaning: To help or to rescue. Deriving from the Proto-Norse it is a very regal name.

Olan – Meaning: Ancestor. The origin of this name is Old Norse. Olan is also a mountain in the Massif des Écrins in the French Alps.

Hercules – Meaning: Glory of Hera or Glorious Gift. Derived from the Greek name Heracles. In Greek mythology, Hercules (or Heracles) was the son of Zeus.

Cuneyt – Meaning: small army (perhaps a small army of Kangals to help save cheetahs?) It is pronounced with a J or G sound vs a C sound.

Bir – Meaning: brother, courageous or hero. Originating in India it is a common Hindu and Sikh name.

Yüklü – Meaning: fraught or laden. This name is originates in Turkey.

Dave – Meaning: darling or beloved. It is a shortened version of David a derivation of an ancient Mesopotamian name. The shortened version Dave originates in Scotland, Wales and England and was very popular name for kings across Europe.

 

IN OTHER NEWS!

In July, CCF had the pleasure of having Linda van Bommel, a researcher from Australia, visit our model farm and livestock guarding dogs. Linda has just finished a 4 year research project on the use and effectiveness of livestock guarding dogs in Australia. She also wrote the “Best Practice Manual for the use of Livestock Guardian Dogs” which is now readily available to help farms in Australia learn how to manage their guarding dogs. This book discusses breeds, training, care, management, and case studies of livestock guarding dogs to help the farmers be better prepared. It is free a downloadable PDF available at the above link.

While Linda was at CCF we compared the management of farms in Australia and Namibia as well as their care and training for their dogs. Although, farms are managed quite differently in the two countries, guarding dogs are very effective in reducing livestock losses due to predators in both areas. We thank Linda for sharing her knowledge with us and hearing about our program successes and we hope to meet up with her again soon.

Kiri and Pups
Kiri and Pups
Linda van Bommels Visit
Linda van Bommels Visit
Spot with his herd
Spot with his herd

Our 2014 Year review is finshed, and it was a very succesful year! CCF’s Livestock Guarding Dog Programme (LSGD) continues to be one of the most successful conservation projects to assist farmers with predator conflict in Namibia. As of December 2014 there were 180 dogs (89M, 91F) alive in the programme, of which 150 (78M, 72F) are working dogs and 30 (11M, 19F) are retired or housed as pets.

CCF has also collaborated with the Ruaha Carnivore Project (RCP) in Tanzania, which is working to mitigate human-carnivore conflict in the Ruaha area. A large part of this conflict is driven by attacks on livestock, so in 2013 CCF provided four (2M, 2F) puppies for placement at RCP in Tanzania to protect livestock of Maasai and Barabaig farmers. The programme has been quite successful and due to this success, CCF provided six (3M, 3F) more puppies to RCP in December 2014. One female was left intact to help RCP create a breeding programme in the future.

CCF has also donated numerous puppies over the years to Cheetah Outreach, another facility who works to save the wild cheetah in South Africa, to help form their own livestock guarding dog programme. Since the trial programme was so successful in 2005, they also began breeding and providing Anatolian shepherds to farmers after the CCF model. The programme is key in helping farmers protect their livestock and thus save more cheetahs.

Currently, there are 26 (7M, 19F) intact dogs in the programme, of which 12 (3M, 9F) reside at CCF as working dogs (3M, 7F) or pets (2F), eight (3M, 5F) work on commercial farms, three (3F) are pets, two (1M, 1F) are in South Africa, and one female is in Tanzania. Feliz, one of our intact females, passed away in February due to snakebite. Nesbit, one of our intact males, has been moved from the pet category to the working category since he now lives with livestock. Penda, an intact female housed as a pet at CCF, has been retired from breeding.

The LSGD programme is a crucial part in CCF’s mission to conserve the wild cheetah and its continuing success is due to the efforts of dedicated CCF staff. Gebhardt Nikanor has worked on the programme since he joined CCF over 10 years ago. Paige Seitz arrived in December 2013 to manage the programme and CCF’s Small Stock Supervisor, Tyapa Toivo, began assisting with dog trips in January 2014.

We have some even more exciting news! On 28 May, one of our Livestock Guarding Dogs, Kiri gave birth to her third litter. She had nine puppies at around midnight. Kiri is doing just fine after some well-deserved rest and recovery. The father of these cute and invaluable little babies is Firat. Apologies for the blurry photo - it was a very long night! There will be a few more long nights to come as the next generation of LSGD's come into the world. As always we will keep you posted on their progress! 

Spot with his herd
Spot with his herd
A visit to CCF
A visit to CCF
Kiri and her Puppies
Kiri and her Puppies

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Cheetah Conservation Fund

Location: Alexandria, VA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.cheetah.org
Project Leader:
Shannon Sharp
Operations Director
Alexandria, VA United States

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