Wellington Zoo has a partnership with Cheetah Outreach, a conservation organisation that uses initiatives such as Livestock Guarding Dogs to reduce conflict with farmers who shoot Cheetah to keep them away from their stock.
Deon Cilliers, the Research Coordinator and Project Manager of the Livestock Guarding Dog Project Eastern Territory, for Cheetah Outreach Trust, is going to be here to talk about “Human Carnivore Conflict within natural cheetah distribution range in South Africa: Understanding the extent of carnivore conflict and the use of livestock guarding dogs to reduce predation on livestock farms”
Human-carnivore conflict is a threat that faces predators globally where they compete with humans for the same resources. Livestock losses due to carnivores can have severe economic implications for farmers. Farmers who experience problems with carnivores, often resort to extreme measures in order to prevent damage. The extreme measures often include lethal persecution with a ‘destroy on sight’ policy or the inhumane use of traps or poisons. The individual animal that causes the damage are seldom targeted with indiscriminate control actions. Lethal control efforts are often futile as vacated habitats are soon filled. A recent study within the Waterberg of Limpopo Province was done with the objective to understand the levels of human-carnivore conflict and also to investigate how farmers are addressing this issue themselves. The result of this study has shown that high levels of carnivores including leopard and African Wild Dog are shot by farmers in the struggle to manage predation. The study did also show that the high level of persecution was not focussed on the removal of specific damage causing individuals, but rather to the abundance and availability of the specific carnivore species. A similar study was done by the same student in the North West Province of South Africa. However, there are long term pro-active solutions that address the causes rather than the symptoms of the problem. These solutions have been applied in various farming practices globally in both first and third world One of the most successful methods, thus far, according to trials done by Cheetah Outreach, for small stock and cattle ranchers to protect their livestock against predation is the use of livestock guarding dogs. Cheetah Outreach has an active livestock guarding dog project that focuses in free ranging cheetah distribution range areas of Limpopo, North West and Northern Cape where leopard and cheetah are regarded as problem animals. Cheetah Outreach believes that the use of livestock guarding dogs is a long term solution to reduce predation to the livestock farmer in South Africa and to secure valuable habitat for large carnivores such as cheetah outside of protected areas.
Deon Cilliers of Cheetah Outreach at Wellington Zoo, Mon 25 Aug, 6-7pm