How Anatolian Shepherd Guard Dogs are saving cheetahs in South Africa.

As part Billabong Zoo’s commitment to  “Conservation through Education” we are highlighting  some of the great work conservation organisations are doing throughout the world. This month we are focussing on the Cheetah – sadly on the IUCN Red List as CRITICALLY ENDANGERED.

This is an extract from the website of  Cheetah Outreach in South Africa (where Billabong Zoo obtained our beautiful cheetah brothers Vongani and Warrior) 

It took 4 million years of evolution for the cheetah to become the exceptional animal it is today and only 100 years for man to place it on the [critically] endangered list. Now the fastest land animal in the world is losing its most important race: the race for survival.  At the turn of the 20th century, an estimated 100,000 cheetahs lived throughout Africa and in parts of the Middle East and Central Asia. Today there are only about 6,600 of these majestic cats left in the wild…”

an_project2As a result of the success of Cheetah Conservation Fund’s livestock guarding dog programme in Namibia, a trial programme was launched by De Wildt’s Wild Cheetah Management Project (WCMP) and Cheetah Outreach in 2005 to introduce the Anatolian shepherd to serve farmers in South Africa. To give this trial the best possible chance of success, farmers were carefully selected and given an information booklet outlining introduction and management strategies for their dogs, collated from CCF literature and experiences, as well as veterinary protocols to ensure health. For optimal results, dogs need to be fit. To promote a good working diet and veterinary care, costs are sponsored by the programme for the first year. The rest is in the hands of the farmer who must invest interest during the initial critical period. This will often be the deciding factor that ensures success in the rearing of a productive guarding dog. [note: Basically the dog protects the herd from a possible cheetah attack, the cheetah moves on for other prey and the farmers stop killing the cheetahs as they are no threat to their livestock. A simple and effective way of humans and wildlife co-existing.]

“Since the programme was implemented, Anatolian guard dogs have been placed on farms in cheetah range in Limpopo and North West Provinces, where they have reduced livestock losses from 95 to 100%. Though mostly used to guard sheep and goats, for the first time in southern Africa, some dogs have been used to successfully guard cattle and some are now guarding wild game such as springbok and nyala.”

For more information visit the Cheetah Outreach website on:  http://www.cheetah.co.za/an_project.html. Billabong Zoo stocks and sells Cheetah Outreach products in our Zoo Shop which helps support the invaluable work they are doing. We also promote their work at our daily Zoo Keeper talks at the Zoo @ 3pm.