Future Farmers of Africa - Agricultural Training for Rural Residents
About the Implementing organization
Name: Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF)
Year of establishment: 1990
Type of organization: Legally recognized non-profit status
During the 1970s and 1980s, Namibian farmers removed hundreds of cheetahs from the landscape each year. Human-wildlife conflict remains one of the greatest threats to this carnivore as ninety percent of the nation’s cheetahs live on farmlands. To mitigate, CCF developed Future Farmers of Africa (FFA) to teach integrated livestock-wildlife management techniques so farmers can make better livings without injuring cheetahs and disrupting the delicate balance of the bush veld. FFA topics include livestock health and veterinary care; livestock husbandry; rangeland management; predator spoor identification; differentiating predator kill techniques; best practices to reduce livestock losses; production of secondary products and methods for non-lethal predator control, including the use of livestock guarding dogs.
CCF introduced the concept of the livestock guarding dog to the continent of Africa in 1994. Today, the CCF Livestock Guarding Dog (LGD) is one of the most effective tools Namibian farmers have to protect herds of goats and sheep from predation. CCF LGDs usually warn off predators merely with their presence and loud bark alone, but if engaged, they will fight. Farmers who use CCF LGDs report an 80% decrease in predation rates. CCF has placed more than 650 LGDs since the program began, which are credited with saving hundreds of cheetahs and other carnivores. CCF has helped launch similar LGD programs in Botswana, South Africa and Tanzania.
Forests / Wildlife
Type of Action
Protection / Restoration / Sustainable use / Access and benefit sharing / Pollution prevention, clean up / Awareness and education
Sustainable Development Element
Jobs and livelihoods / Food security / Water security / Health / Climate action
When CCF entered Namibia, the country had only an estimated 1,500 cheetah and farmers were removing hundreds each year. Without the intervention of CCF, cheetahs would be extinct in Namibia today. Instead, CCF has stabilized and grown the cheetah population of the nation, which now has more cheetah than any other country on Earth - approximately one-third of the remaining population, or 2,500. Namibians used to view cheetah as worthless vermin, but now they recognize economic value in having cheetah, as cheetahs and other African carnivore species drive tourism, which is vital to the nation's economy. Namibian's have done a 180-degree turn in their attitude toward the species and proudly proclaim their country to be "Cheetah Capital of the World."
Sustainable Development Impacts
CCF is the longest running cheetah conservation program in Africa. It is the first to be based outside of protected areas and next to the communities where the species lives, which is now the norm in cheetah conservation.
CCF helped develop and advance the conservancy movement in Namibia, which has been so successful in reducing poaching and improving livelihoods that Namibian conservancies are looked upon as the model by other African nations.
CCF education materials have been adopted into the national school curriculum on Namibia and taught at every grade level.
Most wildlife rangers, government officials, scientists and other leaders working in natural resource management in Namibia today were educated or inspired by CCF outreach initiatives. Many visited CCF during their youth.
CCF impacts the Namibian economy at the estimated rate of $7.4 million annually, according to a study done by the University of Nebraska.
Namibia emerged from the shadows of apartheid and was founded in 1990, the same year as CCF. When Dr. Marker relocated to Namibia, she realized farmers held the key to maintaining ecosystem balance. Many rural Namibians who were farming to feed their families had little to no education, and no family legacy or farming traditions to pass down from generation to generation. Dr. Marker recalled her American high school elective course, Future Farmers of America, and adapted that training for Namibians. The training covers basic subject matter, assuming little to no knowledge, and emphasizes practical, hands-on experiences. FFA started as a week-long program at CCF but has been adapted to become transportable to reach remote areas far from CCF's Model Farm, where the hardest to reach farmers live. CCF sends staff into the remote areas to hold regional training workshops one day a month. This can be done anywhere in the country where training is needed, which is just about everywhere.
FFA can be adapted and replicated everywhere there are rural farmers sharing land with wildlife. Practical knowledge is desperately needed and appreciated by farmers throughout Africa. Aspects of FFA like predator-kill identification, animal husbandry, and basic livestock healthcare would be the same no matter where the course is offered. Non-lethal predator control methods would vary, depending on the type of livestock and the predator threat, which would be impacted by the geographic area where the farmers are found. For example, livestock guarding dogs work best with small stock like goats and sheep, and can best warn off predators with flight versus fight instincts like the cheetah. Using LGDs to guard sheep in Botswana from cheetah predation would be fine. But conversely, dogs guarding cattle in Kenya against lion predation would not work. Instead, the non-lethal method of protection would more likely be building a boma and keeping a pregnant donkey with the calving cattle.
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