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Anatolian Shepherds Save Cheetahs

The Livestock Guarding Dog (LSGD) program launched by the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Namibia is one of the most successful programs implemented to help farmers guard their livestock and it saves the lives of cheetahs in the process.

The world's fastest land animal, the Cheetah is also the most endangered cat in Africa. 
Because a majority of cheetahs in Africa live outside of protected areas, on farmland,  this results in inevitable conflict between them and the local farmers.

To ensure the survival of the species, it has become essential to find non-lethal methods of protecting livestock from these natural predators.

Dr. Laurie Market with Koya (Anatolian Shepherd) and Chewbaaka (Cheetah)
In 1994 Dr Laurie Marker, Founder of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) created the Livestock Guarding Dogs program, which is at the core of these efforts to address the human-wildlife conflict that threatens the cheetah. 

Dr. Marker's research indicated that cheetahs didn't actually prefer domesticated livestock when natural prey was available.


Thus came the idea to use trained dogs to act as watchdogs over the herds. The Anatolian Shepherd is a dog breed that originated in Anatolia (in central Turkey). It is rugged, large and very strong, with superior sight and hearing that allow him to protect livestock. 

Anatolian Shepherds and Kangal dogs are bred and raised in small stock yards at the CCF Namibia headquarters, which also includes a working farm with goats and sheep. The puppies grow up with the farm animals and form a bond with them and at the age of eight weeks they are then neutered and placed with a participating Namibian farmer.

The dogs protect livestock from cheetah attacks as they bark loudly whenever they see a cheetah or another predator, scaring the big cats away. Farmers no longer need to kill cheetahs to protect their livestock and their livelihood. 


So how successful has this program been? Very. Most farmers report an 80% to 100% reduction in livestock kills by cheetahs and other predators.
In the past there were more than 800 to 900 cheetahs killed annually but that number has been reduced significantly thanks to these dogs' hard work.
Since 1994, the CCF has placed over 450 livestock guarding dogs, with more and more puppies born every year. The puppies bond with their herds and protect them from predators. Most farmers using CCF dogs report dramatic reductions of livestock losses due to cheetahs and other predators. In turn, this helps the farmers implement improved livestock management techniques and encourages the farmers to co-exist with cheetahs instead of removing cheetahs from farmland. 

But as 
farmers are now eager to adopt puppies and use this new livestock management technique, there is a long waiting list for these trained dogs.

Each dog costs the CCF over $500 a year in care. These costs include food, vaccinations, new owner support, veterinary care and long-term monitoring. Dogs that are in poor health or not performing well in their new jobs, are removed and placed with another farm where they might be a better fit. If a dog is unable to continue working as a guarding dog, a loving home is found for the dog as a companion animal.

Nigel Allsop, the President of the Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation (AWAMO) personally worked with cheetahs and other large felines such as lions, puma jaguars and bobcats when he was working at the Auckland Zoo.

Like war dogs, he strongly feels these working dogs deserve support and recognition which prompted the AWAMO to become a sponsor of the Lifestock Guarding Dog program. "There are many other dogs that work directly against poachers such as attack and tracker dogs and the AWAMO will be supporting one of these in the future" added Nigel.

Please consider becoming a conservation partner and assist in covering half or all of the annual costs in caring for and raising these working dogs. Your donation will also support training programs for the farmers. Donations at any level also contribute to the continued observation and care of Guarding Dogs after they have been placed on livestock farms. 
Most importantly, your donation helps change the face of Africa not just for wildlife, but for its people. Saving the cheetah can save people, by supporting the human communities that live alongside the cheetah.

If you'd like find out more on how to support these endangered animals, please visit www.cheetah.org

The Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation (AWAMO) is a non-profit organisation that promotes the establishment of War Animal plaques at Parks, RSLs or local and Federal government sites.


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