FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Otjiwarongo, Namibia 12 August 2010) – The first litter of Anatolian Shepherd Livestock Guarding Dog puppies in Namibia conceived through artificial insemination (AI) was born on the 6 August at the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) field research station. Four puppies were born to Uschi, a five-year-old Anatolian Shepherd female inseminated with sperm imported from a breeder in the United States. CCF is extremely pleased with the birth of this litter, as it brings new bloodlines into the country. The Anatolian Shepherd is a rare breed of dog from Turkey which has been used for over 5,000 years to protect farmer’s goats and sheep from predators. CCF regularly breeds Anatolians to give to Namibian farmers and has been working towards expanding their bloodlines. The AI was conducted at the Otjiwarongo Veterinary Clinic by Dr. Axel Hartman two months earlier. Unfortunately, one of the puppies did not survive, leaving three healthy female puppies.
A previous litter of nine puppies whose mother survived a puff adder bite while in uterus were the focus of attention on Saturday, 7 August, when CCF held a Farmers’ Puppy Day. Farmers from throughout Namibia came to CCF to pick up the puppies that will spend their lives closely guarding livestock against predators such as the cheetah. Two of the puppies went to two of southern Africa’s independence movement leaders, former Secretary General of the South West Africa People’s Organisation Andimba Toivo ya Toivo and Deputy Prime Minister Honourable Dr. Libertina Amathila, both of whom have farms in Namibia. The remaining seven went to communal farms in the Khorixas area, according to Gail Potgieter, CCF’s Livestock Guarding Dog coordinator. Prior to taking the puppies to their new homes, the farmers received a full day of training by Potgieter, who explained how to train and look after the dogs and what to expect when they grow up.
CCF developed the Livestock Guarding Dog Program in 1994, breeding livestock guarding dogs specifically for the protection of sheep and goat flocks. Small stock are particularly vulnerable to predation by cheetahs and other carnivores. “The puppies live in the kraal with the goat kids and sheep lambs shortly after birth and through the duration of their time at CCF,” stated CCF Education Officer Gebhardt Nikanor. “This helps to facilitate the bonding between them from a very early age.” The puppies are weaned from their mother and placed with their new herds at 8 to 10 weeks old, the critical age when the puppy successfully bonds with the livestock.
The dogs escort the livestock into the veldt. When the dogs sense the presence of a predator, they bark loudly, alerting the herder. A cheetah will usually back away from a barking dog; however, if necessary, a dog will fight with a predator who tries to attack the herd. CCF Executive Director Dr. Laurie Marker said, “Having a dog with a herd means that predator losses are greatly minimized and helps to reduce the amount of predator killings that occur in retaliation to the stock losses. This, in addition to CCF’s farmers’ training courses which some of today’s new dog owners already took, are exceptional tools to prevent livestock losses.” To date, more than 350 CCF dogs have been placed with commercial and communal farmers.
The program is open to any Namibian farmer interested in a dog. From the initial application, CCF conducts farm visits and assesses the conditions that the dog will be living under. Once approved, the farmers are invited to Puppy Day. CCF follows up with the farmers several times during the course of the first year and then every year after that, to make sure that the dog is in good health and behaving correctly and that the farmer is happy with the dog. In addition, during the visits CCF provides any necessary advice to the farmers, as well as basic medical care such as de-worming and vaccinations, free of charge.
To apply for one of CCF’s Livestock Guarding Dog, please contact CCF at (067) 306 225 (Namibia only).
The Cheetah Conservation Fund is a Namibian non-profit trust dedicated to the long-term survival of the cheetah and its ecosystems.
Since 1990, the organization has developed education and conservation programs based on its bio-medical cheetah research studies, published scientific research papers and has presented educational programs to over 250 000 outreach school learners and over 1500 farmers. In addition, CCF has donated over 350 Anatolian Shepherd livestock guarding dogs to commercial and communal farmers as part of their innovative non-lethal livestock management program.
Research into cheetah biology and ecology has greatly increased our understanding of the fastest land animal and education programs for schools and the farming community help change public attitudes to allow predator and humans to co-exist. However, despite the many successes of CCF programs, the cheetah is still Africa’s most endangered big cat.