by Meredith Hanel, guest writer
As eighty percent of cheetahs in Namibia share land with farmers, there are bound to be conflicts. When Laurie Marker arrived in the late eighties, she talked to farmers and learned they viewed killing cheetahs and other predators as necessary to protect their livestock and earn a living. Marker knew if she wanted to save cheetahs, she needed to help farmers find other ways to keep livestock safe alongside roaming cheetahs. Today farmers can see and learn about cheetah-friendly farming practices at CCF’s model farm and training programs. One of the most successful tools in cheetah-friendly farming is Livestock Guarding Dogs (LGDs). CCF named 2019 “The Year of the Livestock Guarding Dog” as it marks 25 years since this program began.
Since the beginning of the LGD program, CCF has trained and placed over 650 dogs across Namibia, as well as in South Africa and Tanzania.
Farmers that employ a CCF LGD report an 80-100% reduction in livestock losses. The dogs guard against cheetahs and other predators like leopards, jackals, and caracals. The programs have reduced the killing and capture of cheetahs and other predators. An added benefit is that more children can go to school, as they no longer need to stay home to watch over livestock.
Beyond LGD programs, other cheetah-friendly farming practices, production of cheese and other products are taught and demonstrated by CCF at their model farm and in the community. The Future Farmers of Africa is CCF’s outreach program for farmers across Namibia that teaches cattle husbandry, herd and veld management, disease and vaccination programs, business principles and ‘predator-friendly’ practices.
CCF recognizes the cost for farmers to make cheetah-friendly changes like keeping LGDs and building enclosures. CCF is helping create economic incentives for protecting cheetahs with eco-labelling that allows farmers to charge more for their products, if they agree to implement non-lethal predator control measures.
CCF currently has 22 LGDs at CCF centre, 5 of them breeding dogs (1 male and 4 females) and 5 resident working dogs. In 2019, 29 puppies were placed and another 29 puppies will be placed early in the new year.
CCF has recently acquired a breeding dogs. One from Portugal donated by the Lisbon Zoo as well a female dog and a 6-month-old female puppy from the Cheetah Outreach in South Africa.
Currently, there are 186 dogs working in 160 farms in Namibia. CCF has a 2-year waiting list. The cost to care and train a puppy before providing them to a farmer is $500.
Your support is needed so that CCF can continue to work with the farming community to create a world where economic well-being and cheetah survival are not in conflict.