Livestock Guarding Dog ProjectINTRODUCTION:
The Livestock Guarding Dog Project of the Wildlife Conflict Mitigation Program of the Endangered Wildlife Trust has grown in bounds and leaps since it started 7 years ago. Many farmers in Limpopo and Mpumalanga Provinces are buying into the idea of having livestock guarding dogs with the flocks of small stock and herds of livestock as a method to reduce predation to predators such as leopard, cheetah, caracal and other smaller predators, and the associated loss of income for the farmer when this happens. It has become clear that farmers are starting to see this as a long term solution to not only reducing the predation towards the livestock on the farms, but also towards predator conservation in general. It is also important that farmers realize that the introduction of a livestock guarding dog to the herd and the training of the dog there-after is not a simple and easy task and that they are actually prepared and willing to partner with the EWT to ensure that this is done correctly to ensure success. The fact that the EWT through its Carnivore Conflict Mitigation Project partners with the farmer for the first 12 month after placement of the LIVESTOCK GUARDING DOG pup and the monthly monitoring done by staff ensures the success of this project.
The Endangered Wildlife Trust continues to place Anatolian Shepherd Dogs on livestock farms in the cheetah distribution range in South Africa. Cheetahs occur widely spread but in low numbers in the northern part of the Limpopo Province of South Africa. In the past, "problem" cheetahs were captured and relocated away from the farms where they were causing problems. This soon proved to be a useless and unsustainable approach to resolve the conflict as the captured cheetahs would soon be replaced by other cheetahs that would occupy the now vacant territories created by the capture and relocation. New cheetah conservation strategies in South Africa also made it clear that such relocations were not seen as long term solutions to the cheetah/farmer conflict issues. It was then decided to make use of Livestock Guarding Dogs as a long term solution to livestock predation, which has seen between 10 to 15 LIVESTOCK GUARDING DOG pups placed per year with farmers in the cheetah distribution range in the Limpopo Province. The Endangered Wildlife Trust has partnered with Cheetah Outreach, a separate NGO to ensure that the cheetah conflict on livestock farms in South Africa is adequately mitigated by placing LIVESTOCK GUARDING DOG's strategically.
LEOPARD AND OTHER PREDATOR CONSERVATION:
The Waterberg Biosphere Reserve is situated within the Waterberg Mountains in the Limpopo Province. This area is well known for its larger conservation areas which include a National Park as well as privately owned nature reserves. The Waterberg Biosphere is one of the large strong holds for leopards in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. Other large predators such as African Wild Dog, cheetah and brown hyena as well as the smaller carnivores also occur here. Normal livestock farming activities continue to take place within the boundaries of the Biosphere reserve and this creates human/predator conflict when large predators such as leopards disperse from the conservation/protected areas and end up predating on livestock on the adjacent farms. Leopards are seen to be valuable from a eco-tourism point of view for the large protected areas and private reserves, but are also seen as menaces and in fact regarded as problem animals by livestock farmers in the Waterberg who are suffering losses to the leopards predating on cattle, goats and sheep and in some cases even on wildlife which have financial value to the game farmers who own small game farms in the Waterberg. Current and recent research within the Waterberg has shown that predators such as leopards and cheetahs are not able to move between the larger conservation areas and this puts these small isolated populations at risk from a genetic point of view. The EWT decided to expand the LIVESTOCK GUARDING DOG project into the Waterberg Biosphere to mitigate predator conflict and to create movement corridors for predators between the larger conservation areas. Recent research has also indicated that farmers are killing a large number of predators annually, with more than 50 wild dogs which were illegally shot since 2011.A decision was made not only to use the Anatolian Livestock Guarding dog, but also to do a trial on the use of the Africanis "Maluti" livestock guarding dog which is an indigenous African breed of dog used to guard livestock in Lesotho. It is envisaged to continue placing 10 new LIVESTOCK GUARDING DOG pups per year on livestock farms in the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve.
SECURING HABITAT FOR SPECIES OF CONSERVATION CONCERN:
The EWT Wildlife Conflict Mitigation Programme and African Crane Conservation Programme has joined forces in the Chrissiesmeer and Wakkerstroom area in the Mpumalanga Province to assist
farmers with the use of livestock guarding dogs as a alternative to indiscriminate predator control methods which are currently used to control and reduce predation by predators in these areas. Farmers were and in some areas are still using packs of hunting hounds to try and control black-backed jackal, caracal and serval which are predating on sheep in the area. This indiscriminate control method is having a detrimental effect on other non-target species including the crane species and the oribi antelope that occur in the area. Farmers are at wits end but welcomed the initiative from the EWT to implement the livestock guarding dogs onto farms who have signed up as "Crane Custodians" under the current EWT Crane Conservation project in the area. This has been successful as farmers in neighbouring communities have taken notice and have invited the EWT to talk at farmer meetings in order to provide more information on the project. The Luneburg area, which is one of the first "private protected areas" in private land under the National Environmental and Biodiversity Management Act in Mpumalanga, has been earmarked for the next expansion of this project. The EWT will be expanding this project into other core areas where other species of conservation concern are under threat due to indiscriminate predator control methods. The EWT will be placing a limited number of LIVESTOCK GUARDING DOG's on the costs of the project in this area as "show-case" dog after which the EWT will continue to assist the farmers with the placement and training of new LIVESTOCK GUARDING DOG's which are purchased by the farmers as their own cost. The EWT will take on a advisory role in these cases.
The Endangered Wildlife Trust in General:
The Endangered Wildlife Trust is a registered Non Profit Organisation (NPO Number 015-502). Accounting procedures follow Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP). External auditors, Deloitte, audit the Endangered Wildlife Trust annually and audited financial statements are made available to all interested parties.
The Endangered Wildlife Trust is also a registered Public Benefit Organization (PBO Registration Number 930 001 777) for purposes of Section 18A (1) (a) of the Act and donations to the organization will be tax deductible in the hands of the donors.
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Coordinator: Carnivore Conflict Mitigation
Carnivore Conservation Program
Mobile +27 82 8531068
Fax +27 86 6529444
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