News from the Scat Dog Program

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CCF Blog
07.28.2017

CCF’s scat dog program is moving forward with our new scat dog trainer, Quentin de Jager, who joined CCF earlier this year. Since Tiger’s leg injury last year, Finn is our main scat dog, and as he is getting older and CCF wants to expand the scat dog program, we are very excited to share the news about the arrival of our new scat dog Levi. Levi is a Belgian Malinois/German Shepherd cross breed and was trained by Quentin at the Paramount K9 Unit in South Africa in anti-poaching, and was since then used in the detection of rhino horn. Levi has been donated to us by our German partner Aktionsgemeinschaft Artenschutz (AGA) e.V., and we are very thankful for their ongoing support, and especially, their support in moving our scat dog program forward.

Since Levi’s arrival in June he has been trained to detect scat in random transects on roads and playtrees. To determine Levi’s ability to only detect cheetah scat, different carnivore samples (e.g. leopard or jackal) have been placed in the same area as cheetah scat. We will also test his accuracy in different conditions, e.g. placing cheetah scat in different weather conditions and placing the samples for longer periods of time. Levi’s training has been very successful and he already found his first wild cheetah scat!

The future of the scat dog program is to start collecting cheetah scat all around Namibia. Both Finn and Levi will be used to go out to farms having cheetah, or suspected cheetah problems, to determine if it is really cheetah problems or not (with finding cheetah scat and identifying if cheetahs have really eaten livestock). This will be a very important tool in mitigating the human wildlife-conflict between farmers and cheetahs.

The scat samples found by Finn & Levi will be used for genetic purposes as well, and the genetics lab, ecology department and scat dog program work together closely.

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