Spots working with the LSGD
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.
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!
A pup with dogs