This blog was written by CCF volunteer, Kerstin Krahwinkel, who is currently undertaking a study on the livestock guarding dogs. A GPS collar is placed on the working dogs and she accompanies them out into the field to determine the movements of the dogs in comparison to the herd that they protect.
The anxious goats and sheep are waiting for me at the Kraal after a Sunday inside. Armas, CCF’s goat herder, and I fastened the GPS collars on the leading goat and Aleya, the livestock guarding dog. Our adventurous day has begun, departing from the goat kraal at nine, and following the herd into the bush to track their movements.
While Aleya runs around in big circles with her curious senses, Shades (the other working dog) remains amongst the sheep and goats as a calm, conscientious warden. Even though most of the time Aleya was hard to see in the bush-encroached land, her GPS collar told me where she was. To catch up with Armas and the herd, I trusted that Shades would lead me through the thorn bushes. He always ensured I was close behind. When the herd decided to rest under a tree, to eat fallen seeds and leaves, the protective Shades also rested with them, but always remained on sentry duty to any potential danger or threat.
Suddenly, the ever-attentive Aleya sensed a strange scent. She was immediately alerted by the peculiar brown animal that was sharing the same waterhole, which turned out to be a thirsty warthog. Quickly, she made it clear that at this moment the waterhole was for her herd by standing proud and barking at the potential threat. For her great success she rewarded herself with a bath, cooling her from the hot midday-sun.
The herder and dogs ensured that the herd were protected all day long from possible intruders and, at the end of the day, every goat returned to the kraal unharmed from predators once more.
For more information on our livestock guarding dog programme, please visit http://www.cheetah.org/?nd=guarding_dog_program
All photos copyright © Cheetah Conservation Fund 2012