Using livestock guarding dogs to protect livestock from predation

August 4, 2017

Botswana Placeholder
Botswana

Using livestock guarding dogs to protect livestock from predation

About the Implementing organization

Name: Cheetah Conservation Botswana

Country: Botswana

Year of establishment: 2003

Type of organization: Community-based association or organization, Legally recognized non-profit status

Description

As human populations grow across Africa, traditional farming practices are resulting in an increase in human-wildlife conflict as habitat for wildlife is increasingly threatened. From an ecological perspective, agricultural farmlands serve as critical habitat for cheetah, as cheetah tend to be outcompeted in formal protected areas that hold higher densities of larger carnivore species. Thus, cheetah are driven onto land outside of protected areas and end up competing with livestock for resources and sometimes targeting the livestock for predation - then subsequently becoming the target of retaliatory killing by local farmers. To stop wildlife decline, changes must be made to the current methods of land and livestock management; the continued survival of Botswana's carnivores depends on the attitudes of farming communities. This is where the livestock guarding dog program comes in. CCB is able to provide a concrete solution to a tangible problem. By placing livestock guarding dogs with local livestock farmers, CCB has seen a 70% average reduction in livestock losses - some farmers who reported losing 20-40 animals to predation prior to getting a livestock guarding dog are now losing 0-2 animals per year.

Nature Element

Grasslands / Wildlife

Type of Action

Protection / Sustainable use / Access and benefit sharing / Awareness and education

Sustainable Development Element

Jobs and livelihoods

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s)

    

Environmental Impacts

The impact that the livestock guarding dog program has to conservation is significant; reduced human-wildlife conflict results in fewer incidences of retaliatory killing towards cheetah and other carnivores, and aids greatly in improving local attitudes and perceptions of carnivores generally. As farmers are truly at the front lines of conservation, interacting daily with wildlife, the continued survival of Botswana's carnivores depends on the attitudes of farming communities. Although farmer have traditionally harbored negative attitudes towards carnivores in general, there is the emerging realization that wildlife is a national resource, and therefore farmers are interested in techniques that minimize conflict and enable coexistence.

Sustainable Development Impacts

Livestock guarding dogs help safeguard the livelihoods of the farmers by protecting their livestock. Farmers who previously reported losing 20-40 animals per year to predation are now losing 0-2. This represents an average savings of about USD $2,000 annually (the value of the stock not lost to predation).

Scalability

Over the last 5 years, CCB has worked with the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks to provide support for improved management to mitigate livestock-predator conflict, including building strong kraals and placing LSGDs in 13 settlements in Northern Botswana. Overall, the program had positive results demonstrating that kraals and dogs are effective at protecting livestock. We are engaging the government at all levels to result in a national scaling up in implementing best practices for conflict management. We aim to promote the need for stronger incentives for implementing effective livestock management with various government departments. There is considerable potential that this could include the provision of a government support fund for farmers to enable them to improve their livestock management practices. Alternatively, it could include changes in the compensation policy to require farmers to utilize effective management methods in order to qualify for compensation.

Replicability

The livestock guarding dog program has expanded throughout northern Botswana and is easily replicable in farming communities across Africa and abroad in which livestock come into conflict with predators. Local dogs are used as they are best suited to the local climate. When combined with other improvements in farming management practices, such as better kraal design, farmers across these communities have seen a significant reduction in predation. The CCB team has developed resources, such as a farmers manual with information on training and care of livestock guarding dogs, that can be adapted and disseminated to new communities to reduce conflict with predators.

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