Twenty-five years of livestock guarding dog use across Namibian farmlands
- February 11, 2021
- by Marker L. L., Pfeiffer L., Siyaya A., Seitz P., Nikanor G., Fry B., O'Flaherty C., Verschueren S.
Preventing human-wildlife conflict is key to maintaining viable predator populations. In Namibia, over 90% of cheetahs are found outside of protected areas, therefore risk of conflict with farmers is high. Since 1994, the Cheetah Conservation Fund has implemented a programme to prevent livestock depredation using livestock guarding dogs (LGDs). Long-term (25-year period) monitoring efforts in Namibia have provided insights on the efficiency and performance of LGDs and farmers‘ perceptions. LGDs reduced livestock losses for 91% of respondents and farmers were highly satisfied with their LGD. Poor performance from behavioural issues, such as “staying at home” and “chasing game”, was linked to the LGDs receiving less care and being found in poorer body condition. Unwanted ecological impacts of wildlife killings by LGDs merit further investigation, but occurrence of behavioural issues reduced over time, suggesting a targeted and adaptive management approach to increase performance. Addressing behavioural issues, increasing LGD lifespans and understanding LGD performance under different conditions will be crucial for optimising LGD management leading to better performance. Our long-term study provides unique insights into a highly successful programme and is recommended to be replicated and adapted where imminent human-predator conflicts threaten coexistence.