Farmers Praise Cheetah Conservation Botswana’s Livestock Guardian Dogs Program

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Livestock Guarding Dogs (LGDs) is one of the programs by Cheetah Conservation Botswana (CCB) which farmers in the Ghanzi district have appreciated for its effectiveness in protecting livestock from carnivores prevalent in the area, especially cheetahs. 

The farmers have from way back been experiencing conflicts with cheetahs resulting in retaliatory methods that were lethal to predators, posing threats to the survival of the former. 

This as the western Kalahari has the highest density of cheetahs in the country. As an organisation that aims to preserve the nation’s cheetah population, CCB then came up with a plan to train and place the LGDs where farmers experience conflict as a way to promote co-existence.

Through this program, tswana puppies are raised with livestock from an early age and would naturally bond with the livestock and protect them from threats by providing early warnings of the presence of predators. The organisation opted for the use of the local breed because of their incredible resilience to extreme local climate, disease and parasites, making them outstanding guarding dogs.

“There is nothing special that we are using here at CCB to train these dogs, we take the 6-8 weeks old dog and place them inside the kraals, feed and vaccinate them there. By so doing, the dogs naturally bond with the goats and does not want to be separated from them,” the organisation’s Farming for Conservation coordinator, King Modise explained during their media bush camp in Ghanzi recently.

He added that after training, the dogs are given to farmers troubled by cheetahs indicating that they have so far allocated about 110. Furthermore, Modise noted that they also have model farmers whom they have trained to also assist the organisation in training LGD puppies for placement with other farmers in need. 

CCB also has a demonstration farm where farmers are taught different farming methods such as good livestock health care and record keeping, livestock guarding dogs method and a carnivore-proof kraal among others.

One of the farmers grateful of the LGDs by CCB is Jeffery Moyo who appreciated that after adopting the initiative the conflict between them and the cheetahs has significantly reduced. He lamented that he lost close to 40 goats to predators with cheetahs back then being the most problematic but is thankful that the use of LGDs has been very helpful.

“The method has been very helpful because it has been a while since we last saw a cheetah around here, the environment is calm,” Moyo appreciated.

Another farmer who also shared the same sentiments is Rachel Kelefitlhetse, appreciating that LGDs is one of the CCB programs which has helped their co-existence with predators. She indicated that she used to lose as many as 15 goats a month to carnivores until she was introduced to LGDs by CCB in 2011.

Beyond CCB’s farming for conservation program meant to assist farmers protect their livestock from predation, the organisation’s Co-founder and Executive Director, Rebecca Klein added that they also have another one- communities for conservation program which is about helping communities in the district benefit from their natural resources and indigenous knowledge.

This include their planned craft center in Kacgae area where the community will use their own symbolic cultures to create commercially viable products through textile and painting with the trainings facilitated by CCB.

“We have been working very hard towards these goals for the last 20 years,” said Klein as the organisation held a two-day media bush camp in Ghanzi as part of CCB’ 20th anniversary celebrations.

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