I attended a talk by Dr. Laurie Marker of the Cheetah Conservation Fund on her US speaking tour at the Oakland California Zoo where she discussed the program to donate livestock guarding dogs to local farmers.
The giant dog in this picture is the Anatolian Shepherd, bred to stand its ground among the livestock and protect it from predators. Implemented in Namibia, the program has spread to neighboring countries, South Africa and Botswana. Kangol dogs are another breed that are used in this program.
During my trip to Southern Africa, I’ll be photographing this program in action and capturing the stories of farmers who have implemented these practices. For more information view the full description on Kickstarter.
The story from Namibia dates to 1994. From Cheetah Conservation Fund:
The Dogs at Work
CCF started the Livestock Guarding Dog program in 1994, by capitalizing on the special characteristics of Anatolian Shepherds, and more recently, Kangal Dogs. Original from Turkey, where the dogs are used to protect livestock against wolves and bears, CCF saw the potential these dogs could have in CCF’s efforts to minimize conflict with predators on Namibian farmlands. The dogs’ natural instincts to protect the flock, paired to the cheetah’s natural flight vs. fight instinct, made these dogs the ideal choice…
Both the Kangal and the Anatolian Shepherd are bred to be working dogs, and thus are very attentive to their herds. The goal of CCF’s Livestock Guarding Dog (LSGD) program is to raise the young pups with the herd, so that they bond with the livestock, instead of humans, and thus assume the role of protectors.
Cheetah Outreach Program : Success stories from South Africa:
Since the programme was implemented, Anatolian guard dogs have been placed on farms in cheetah range in Limpopo, North West and Northern Cape Provinces, where they have reduced livestock losses from 95 to 100%. Though mostly used to guard sheep and goats, for the first time in southern Africa, some dogs have been used to guard cattle.
Cheetah Botswana Program : Success Stories from Botswana:
The program has been even more successful than anticipated. In just three years, the livestock guarding dog program has grown to over 250 members. Farmers endorse its effectiveness to their neighbors, and the word spreads. CCB offers hands-on training for farmers and their dogs, information and advice for predator issues, and workshops that bring farmers and experts together to network and learn.
About the Anatolian Shepherd Breed:
The Anatolian Shepherd is a guard dog of ancient lineage; probably originating from large hunting dogs in ancient Mesopotamia. The breed evolved over time to be able to travel great distances across the arid Anatolian Plateau region of Turkey and Asia Minor. This environment is very similar to Namibia, with very little rain, extreme heat in summer and cold in winter.
Used for guarding livestock, the dogs were expected to work in a vast open area without the presence of humans. Through selective breeding, a magnificent livestock guarding dog emerged.
The Anatolians possess a double coat, medium in length, often with dark facial shading. This functional coat insulates the dog against sun and extreme temperatures. They have a large and imposing stature, with mature males standing approximately 30 inches + at the shoulder and weighing 110-143 lbs. They have large heads and chests, with a tapering body. Their excellent eyesight, sharp hearing and strong dedication to their herd make them ideal for the job.