Approximately 95% of the cheetah population in Namibia resides on farmlands in the north-central region of the country, with only small populations of cheetah found in the southern part. This causes human wildlife conflict as farmers are worried about predators taking livestock. As part of our conservation and education programs we offer farmer training programs that focus on livestock and predator management. With the help of sponsors we are able to offer these courses which include training, food, and shelter to the farmers. Their only responsibility is transport to CCF. We have had a very positive response and continue to fill courses. Starting with two basic courses we have now added many based on the needs of farmers. Successful farms are important for the conservation of the cheetah and other predators. Some of the courses offered include Integrated Livestock and Predator Management, Practical Farming Course, Livestock Marketing and Management, Financial Farm Management, Sustainable Utilisation of Game on Commercial Farmland, Small Stock Management, and Introduction to Sustainable Livestock Farming for Learners Grade 9 – 12.
Last week we had 28 farm workers on site participating in the Practical Farming Course which is designed for the farm workers. This course focuses less on management and more on hands on day to day issues. The course starts with the farm ecosystem and how their actions affect the system as a whole. Next they are taught herd health including what to look for in terms of illness, what medications they should have on hand and how to properly dispense them, and problems and solutions that may arise during birthing. The group learned vaccinations, proper nutrition and what times of the year different supplements may be needed. The participants also learn more about the use and training of livestock guarding dogs as they are the ones interacting with these dogs on a daily basis.
To teach them more about the different predators on the farms we set up kill id sites which include a carcass, tracks and other signs that will help them determine which predator is causing the problem. Through this hand on exercise they learn ways to deal with their individual problems and often uncover misconceptions about the different predators.
We look forward to the next year of courses and are always grateful for the help from our sponsors. Keeping the cost off the farmers is very important for the success of the courses.