During February, the Cheetah Conservation Fund hosted 21 conservationists and agriculturalists from four southern African cheetah-range countries for an international training course on Integrated Livestock, Wildlife, and Predator Management. The course focused on cheetah-human conflict, and the role of farmer outreach programmes and community-based training to mitigate conflict. This course was supported by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation in cooperation with the African Cheetah Initiative’s Cheetah Regional Strategic Planning partners.
Participants came from Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, and Namibia for the training, which helped build capacity to conserve cheetahs and their ecosystems by working with communities and other stakeholders to apply techniques for mitigating human-wildlife conflict.
With cheetah populations dwindling, their survival depends on educated people using proven methods to reverse this trend. Over the past 20 years, CCF and other organizations have developed many such methods and for the past few years have been sharing this information through training for wildlife conservation and agriculture professionals.
“Bringing together professionals and training the trainers from a variety of cheetah-range countries is promoting a unified and systematic approach to cheetah conservation including research, monitoring and wildlife-conflict mitigation measures,” commented CCF’s Founder and Executive Director, Dr. Laurie Marker.
CCF staff was assisted with lectures and exercises by a number of conservation and agricultural advocates. Wiebke Volkmann, from Earth Wise Enterprise, taught on integrated and holistic management practices. Topics included the advantages of grouping community livestock herds together and improving the productivity of grazing lands through reduced impact on the land, increasing ground cover and reducing erosion and water runoff. Other course presenters included Dr. Donald Hlahla, from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, who facilitated a workshop on leadership skills, and Dr. Peter Lindsey, a conservancy consultant, who presented the IUCN’s adopted Southern African Regional Strategy on Cheetahs and Wild Dogs. In addition, Chris Weaver of WWF presented on large-scale land use planning using Namibia’s Communal Conservancy Programme as a model for community-based resource management.
Adolf Okamaru, a resident of Queen Sofia and the recipient of CCF’s 2009 Farmer of the Year Award, has attended several of CCF’s Farmer’s Training courses, and also was a participant in CCF’s International Training Course on Integrated Livestock, Wildlife and Predator Management held in June, 2009. Reflecting on CCF’s training courses and this visit to Queen Sofia, Adolf asserted that, “ as an emerging farmer in this area, I want to see things done in a progressive way towards Namibia’s Vision 2030. My motive includes all future generations in the farming arena with the hope of working together and achieving our farming objectives. Therefore, our engagement with CCF through agricultural trainings opened our minds to see the issues existing now at Queen Sofia and in the ecosystem.”
Mutende Musonda, a course participant representing the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, remarked that “Queen Sofia can be used to model development of wildlife and agriculture in other areas as a means to fulfill resettlement objectives and improve the socio-economic level of communities.”
CCF’s Integrated Livestock, Wildlife, and Predator Management courses, along with the Cheetah Conservation Biology courses, are making great strides toward the appropriate training of wildlife professionals and agricultural extension officers in the cheetah’s remaining range-countries, as well as for the cheetah’s worldwide conservation.
CCF will be hosting another International Integrated Livestock and Predator Management courses in March. From 3 to 30 June 2010, a Cheetah Conservation Biology Field Training course will run, which is aimed at providing conservation training for international cheetah conservation biologists.