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Livestock Guarding Dogs

Dogs Saving Cats



 

The LGD program was first introduced in 1994 at CCF Namibia, and has been one of their most successful programs to help save the wild cheetah.  This non-lethal predator control method has helped farmers to understand that humans and wildlife can co-exist, and has resulted in many fewer cheetah deaths.

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Farmers benefitting from CCF training on livestock management

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Farmers receiving a puppy to work at their farm to reduce predation

About the Breed

 

CCF selected the Kangal and Anatolian Shepherd dogs for their program.  Originally from Turkey, these dogs are independent thinkers, very smart, and have been at work protecting livestock for over 6,000 years.  They were also chosen for their tolerance to a harsh climate and terrain similar to that of Namibia.

 

About the LGD Program

 

These special dogs, raised and bred on the model farm at CCF Namibia, are given free or for a nominal fee to Namibian farmers when the puppies are about 8 weeks old.

The puppies bond with their herds and bark loudly whenever they see a cheetah or predator, scaring the aggressor away.  This program has resulted in a decrease in predation by about 80 per cent…a hugely successful result.  Farmers no longer need to kill cheetahs (or other predators) in order to protect their livestock and their livelihood.

CCF Namibia has helped launched similar programs in Botswana, South Africa and Tanzania.

Goat Herder with Anatolian Shepherd

Goat Herder with Anatolian Shepherd

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What does the program entail?

 

The LGD program is labour-intensive at all four stages:

  1. Research – Farmers are evaluated for their suitability to take on a livestock guarding dog, predation causes are studied, and genetic and physiological research is conducted on dogs.
  2. Dog Care & Placement – This consists of breeding, training of puppies, and placement for approximately 40-50 livestock guarding dogs that are placed annually on Namibian livestock farms.
  3. Farmer Support & Follow-up Care – CCF visits and surveys owners of working dogs to monitor the animal’s health and ongoing care.  They also provide access to veterinarian services, vaccines, and nutritious food for the dogs.
  4. Education – Farmers receiving training to integrate the dog into their farm and other  predator-friendly livestock and wildlife management techniques.

Livestock Guarding Dogs

Spot, Photo by Bobby Bradley

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Dr. Axel Hartman performs artificial insemination on CCF’s Livestock Guarding Dog Uschi.

Dr. Axel Hartman performs artificial insemination on CCF’s Livestock Guarding Dog Uschi.

Social and Economic Benefits

 

CCF has been able to change the cultural attitude of an entire nation towards its wildlife by demonstrating its economic value. Namibians who once viewed cheetah as worthless vermin now proudly declare their country to be “The Cheetah Capital of the World”.  ~ Dr. Laurie Marker

Since CCF introduced the guarding dogs program in 1994, a total of approximately 600 puppies have been placed, and farmers have reported up to an 80% decrease in livestock losses post-placement of these dogs.  CCF currently manages 220 working dogs in addition to the puppies born each year.  The ratio of dog to goats/sheep is 1 to 200.

Furthermore, in many cases, having a LGD allows children on the farm to go to school instead of taking care of their family’s herds. These types of program are important, not only in protecting the cheetah, but also in improving farmers’ livelihood and that of the next generation.

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With the introduction of the livestock guarding dogs on their farm, these children will be able to go to school.

Anatolian puppies bond to their "charge' between 8 to 16 weeks of age. CCF places puppies with the livestock they will grow to protect between that age period. When they are very young, though, they need their own safe place to escape in the stock yard so as not to be hurt by older protective livestock stock. Between 3 to 6 months of age the puppies often become playful with young stock and need corrective guidance. .

Anatolian puppies bond to their “charge’ between 8 to 16 weeks of age. CCF places puppies with the livestock they will grow to protect between that age period. When they are very young, though, they need their own safe place to escape in the stock yard so as not to be hurt by older protective livestock stock. Between 3 to 6 months of age the puppies often become playful with young stock and need corrective guidance. .

Conservation Impact

 

Conservation of this last large stronghold for cheetahs in Namibia will determine if the species will survive for future generations. Because of its effectiveness and popularity, the use of an effective guarding dog in non-lethal predator management may be one of the most important components in cheetah and other large carnivore survival for the future.

For the cheetah to survive, it must have a habitat, a prey base, and a holistic approach in the farmlands incorporating land use, livestock, and wildlife. The ultimate conservation aim is to develop an appropriate method for diminishing the level of human-wildlife conflict, thus fostering a sustainable co-existence of predators (e.g. cheetah) and people.

How you can help?

 

Each dog costs CCF over $600 a year in care covering training, food, vaccinations and new-owner support.

Through the generosity of our donors, we have been able to provide significant funding support to CCF Namibia’s Livestock Guarding Dog Program (LGD) since 2013.  Our goal is to be able to reach $50,000 in annual donations to support on-going operations and its expansion to other regions.

To help us support the Livestock Guarding Dog Program, you can join our new monthly GivingCare Program, make a one-time donation online, or mail us a cheque using our PDF form.