Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia
The Cheetah Conservation Fund is the primary conservation body involved in helping to save the most enigmatic of wild cats in Namibia, its last remaining stonghold in Africa, where a third of the surviving Cheetahs live. A major part of their work is based around the fostering of good-will from farmers and stock-herders, improving the chance of survival for the wild Cheetah.
Since 1994 CCFs Livestock Guarding Dog Program has developed as a non-lethal predator management scheme. Although the Cheetah is protected in Namibia, farmers are allowed to 'remove' animals which are suspected to be a threat to livestock. Recent droughts have brought many predators into direct conflict with flocks, and simply labling a Cheetah as a 'problem animal' regardless of its actual status, allows it to be killed.
This scheme places puppies of two breeds of mastiff tpe dog in the flocks of local herders at around 7 to 8 weeks old after weaning. These dogs grow up with their herds, protecting them from predators. Usually marauding animals are not attacked, but the guard dogs simply bark; either frightening off the predator or alerting the farmer to the threat. This is especially effective with Cheetah attacks, as the Cheetahs natural 'flight-v-fight' instinct means it will avoid contact where possible, and retreat quickly from a barking dog.
The dogs live and travel with their flocks, and are large enough to physically defend them if this is necessary, although they are trained not to chase or attack the predator, but to stand their ground and bark warnings. The CCFs Livestock Guarding Dogs have sucessfully defended their herds against Baboons, Jackals, Caracals, Cheetahs, Leopards and even Humans.
This is a very expensive scheme for CCF and Hamerton Zoo Park is very pleased to have been able to provide some funds towards it, raised from our own Cheetah Contact Experiences. More information can be found on CCFs website at www.cheetah.org