Cheetahs are one the most endangered big cats in the world. Approximately 30 percent of the cheetahs remaining in the wild live in the African country of Namibia. Many of the cheetahs in Namibia are in danger of poaching from local ranchers. The ranchers kill the cheetahs because the fast cats often will kill the ranchers’ livestock for food.
The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) devised a unique, win-win solution to this problem, which saves the lives of cheetahs and the ranchers’ livestock. The conservation organization places Kangal (Anatolian) Shepherds with Namibian ranchers. These dogs are specially trained to guard livestock and to ward off threats from predators, such as the cheetah.
“The dogs develop their own types of barks that mean different things, and the predators learn what these barks mean, which helps decrease conflict,” said Laurie Marker, director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund.
“The Anatolian works very well, and has been used for about 6,000 years to protect livestock from predators in Turkey,” Marker said.
Because the dogs protect their livestock, ranchers have no reason to kill cheetahs.
Since 1994, the fund has placed 275 dogs with ranchers. So far, this program is working extremely well, and the lives of many cheetahs have been saved by the brave and intelligent dogs.
To learn more about the Livestock Guarding Dog program visit the Cheetah Conservation Fund’s website.
Brad Kollus is a freelance writer specializing in the human-feline bond. He lives on the East Coast with his wife Elizabeth, son Dylan and their four cats.