At CCF there’s more than cheetahs! I have met two of the biggest canine helpers and was so happy to have the opportunity to work with both. I went out with the scat detection dogs that are trained to search out cheetah poop. The scat helps the genetics team gather information about the wild population of cheetahs. When the dogs find any scat they are trained to sit or lay down to indicate where it is and what type of animal it’s from. These dogs enable CCF to cover a much wider area than humans could do on foot and their noses are also incredibly accurate at identifying cheetahs’ scat.
The activity was more of a training exercise on CCF property. The dogs need to keep training to practise for longer expeditions in areas with a suspected population of cheetahs. The cheetah scat is analysed to see where the cheetahs go, what they eat and what food they are losing to their competitors. Because cheetahs have such huge home ranges and are very shy they are not easy to track in a traditional way. Genetic analysis of scat is a non-invasive method of obtaining information about cheetahs in the wild – the overall population, demographics, sex ratio and kinship
The other type of dogs that work at CCF are Livestock Guarding Dogs. They help to reduce human wildlife conflict in Namibia. CCF breeds LGDs and provides them to livestock farmers to help protect their herds. Having an LGD massively reduces predation of the herds and farmers are not then tempted to shoot cheetahs. Unfortunately, as cheetahs are daytime hunters they are seen more and get more than their fair share of blame when livestock is lost. It’s actually quite rare for them to prey on livestock.
I fed the dogs and took Lady, one of CCF’s breeding female LGDs, for a walk (see featured image at the top of the page). Lady has had four litters of puppies that are out with Namibian farmers and will have one litter more before she retires.
Calum is CCF’s Livestock Guarding Dog Programme Manager and he’s also from the UK. He started out at CCF as an intern and did so well that he was offered a job.