Animals
 Namibia
Project #2578

Help Dogs Save Cats

by Cheetah Conservation Fund
Vetted
Welcome our new puppy, Bolt!
Welcome our new puppy, Bolt!

Please help us welcome Bolt, the newest addition to CCF's Livestock Guarding Dog Breeding Program! This little guy, who is 11 weeks old, came to CCF from Taylor Farm in Texas, USA.  Bolt is being welcomed by Hercules our Livestock Guarding Dog ambassador (on the right) in the photo above.

The mother and father of this puppy are both originally from Turkey, meaning new bloodlines can be added to our breeding colony! The puppy had a long journey over to Namibia, but was a very well behaved boy throughout the trip. He is already making friends with the other breeding dogs at CCF and seems to be enjoying his new home. 

CCF's renowned Livestock Guarding Dog Program has beeen highly effective at reducing predation rates and thereby reducing the inclination by farmers to trap or shoot cheetahs. 

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 enthusistically embraced the program, and there is now a two year waiting list for puppies, which makes Bolt's role even more important to CCF's Livestock Guarding Dog Breeding Progam.

Bolt getting used to his new comforts of home
Bolt getting used to his new comforts of home
Livestock Guarding Dog Program in Action
Livestock Guarding Dog Program in Action

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Puppies are on the way!
Puppies are on the way!

Lady’s Ultrasound – New Puppies on the Way

Today the vet team (Andrew DiSalvo, Emma Alfonso, and Liz Wood) performed an abdominal ultrasound on Lady, one of our Anatolian Shepherd dogs. We use ultrasound as a tool to detect pregnancy, and today’s results show that she is pregnant with her first litter! The gestation period (pregnancy length) in a dog is 63 days. Abdominal ultrasound can be used to detect pregnancy in a female dog as early as 20-25 days of gestation. Ultrasound provides a non-invasive way to check for pregnancy; gel is applied to the animal’s fur and skin to ensure good contact with the ultrasound probe, and an image of the structures beneath the skin appear on a screen as the probe is moved by the veterinarian. While Lady is in the early stages of her pregnancy, an embryo was visible today (the white dot on the ultrasound machine picture). We will recheck her again in a few weeks to see if her pregnancy is still on a healthy path.

Here at CCF, we breed Anatolian Shepherds and Kangal dogs as part of our Livestock Guarding Dog programme. These dogs are used by Namibian farmers to protect their livestock, thereby reducing livestock predation by local carnivores. This also reduces the conflict between farmers and cheetahs, which can help save the lives of wild cheetahs and other carnivores. This program plays an essential role in cheetah conservation, by addressing the concerns of local farmers and eliciting their help in protecting the wild cheetah.

We are very excited to have puppies at CCF soon! Congratulations, Lady!

 

Lady’s Pregnancy – Almost There!

At 45 days in to a dog’s pregnancy the bones of the puppies begin to calcify, meaning you can see the puppies on an X-ray. Below you can see some X-rays that were taken of our pregnant Anatolian, Lady, to allow us to get an estimate of how many puppies she will have. We believe we could see 7-8 puppies on the X-ray. However, this is never an exact number, but it allows us to be more prepared and make sure no issues occur during her pregnancy.

Lady will have her first litter in the next couple of days. At 9 weeks old these puppies will then be placed with Namibian farmers to begin their training in guarding the farmer’s livestock against predation. Research shows that these dogs have helped farmers see an 80-100% reduction in their livestock losses which is beneficial to the farmer’s livelihood and to the predator population. Everyone at CCF is super excited for more puppies so we can help more farmers as there is quite the demand for these guarding dogs!

See the embryo above, its the white dot
See the embryo above, its the white dot
Lady gets her ultrasound from the veterinarian
Lady gets her ultrasound from the veterinarian
X-Ray of Ladies Puppies
X-Ray of Ladies Puppies

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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:

 

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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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