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The cheetah is Africa’s most threatened large cat. The recent census by the IUCN has estimated the global cheetah population at approximately 7000 individuals, clearly demonstrating Botswana as one of the last strongholds of the species with 30% of the world’s population.
However, Botswana’s cheetahs are under threat. From an ecological perspective, agricultural farmlands serve as critical habitat for cheetahs in Botswana as they tend to be unable to compete in formal protected areas that hold higher densities of larger carnivore species. Nearly 80% of cheetahs are estimated to live outside reserves on unprotected lands, where they come into conflict with livestock farmers. However, such areas are becoming increasingly overgrazed and poorly managed. Livestock production is not effective, carnivore conflict is high, and wildlife populations continue to decline.
Currently, human-wildlife conflict is the greatest threat to Kalahari carnivores, especially the cheetah and wild dog populations. To stop wildlife decline, changes must be made to the current methods of land and livestock management. Although many farmers harbor negative attitudes towards carnivores in general, there is concurrent realization that wildlife is a national resource for tourism, and therefore farmers are becoming more interested in techniques that minimize conflict and enable coexistence.
The USD 20,000 raised by The Footprints Network for this project was used for the following activities:
Farmer training workshops
Three farmer training workshops were held reaching 143 farmers in Bere, Kacgae (September 2019) and Ghanzi (February 2020). These workshops increase the capacity of farmers to identify different carnivores and implement relevant methods to reduce livestock losses. Presentations and demonstrations are provided on relevant subjects that assist in improving livestock management for reduced carnivore conflict and optimized production. These include:
The workshops were also attended by key government departments, including:
Livestock Guarding Dog (LGD) placements
Farmers’ network and exchange visits
Model farmers and community demonstration farms
Mr. Mister Phakalane - Farmers Network Member and LGD recipient
“Ke leboga (Thank you) CCB for this dog. After receiving a dog from you I experienced decreased predation on my farm. Touch, my dog has helped me to stop cheetahs and jackals from tormenting my goats. It is very amazing to see how a dog can do this wonderful job. The benefits of using a livestock guarding dog include a decrease or elimination of predation, reduced labour like human herding of animals every day, reduced reliance on other predator control techniques, and greater peace of mind. I appreciate what CCB has done for me. Thank you very much. Keep up the good work!”
Ms. Neo Motseothata - Farmers Network Member and LGD recipient
“Before meeting CCB, the normal practice I knew was that you kill cheetahs and carnivores whenever livestock is lost. Ever since attending a farmers’ workshop I have been more tolerant of wildlife than ever. CCB intervened by letting us know how to respond to conflict and through them placing a livestock guarding dog with my small stock, I can satisfactorily say I have never experienced any conflict. This should encourage us even more to work together and coexist”.
Ms. Puisano Mosimanewakgang - Farmers Network Member and LGD recipient
“I got to know CCB through attending a farmers’ workshop. I had 10 goats plus a ram. It was my only livelihood but the number dropped to 5 due to carnivores in the area. After receiving an LGD from CCB, the number of my livestock has increased and twice a year I sell the excess numbers to make my own income. I look after my children alone and this has helped me to support them. After CCB’s assistance, we are now well aware of wildlife in our area and are coexisting peacefully with them”.
Mr. Kereeope Junior Dinko - Farmers Network Member and LGD recipient
“I am farmer who has struggled before to live with prevailing carnivores in my farm, because they terrorised and killed my goats. One day at the beginning of the year, I met two gentlemen from CCB. They told me how they train dogs to be good shepherds. I was interested in having one, so they gave me one female puppy and I put it in my flock of goats. The dog is now over 1 year old and since the day they gave it to me my goats are well herded by this dog. I have never lost any goat due to carnivores like before. I love this dog, I take good care of it because it is doing a good job for me. I am very happy and I can testify that guarding dogs are very good indeed and I agree that coexistence of livestock farmers and wildlife is possible. I am not only saying this to promote you CCB, I am also saying this out of happiness, good experiences and the wonderful changes which were brought by this dog. Thank you so much for giving me the dog. I encourage other farmers with carnivore problems to have dogs to protect their livestock and help conserve our wildlife’’.
CCB is a long term conservation organisation and is committed to this approach beyond the duration of the grant. As the project develops various approaches are increasingly adopted by the community ensuring long term sustainability. However, where required, CCB will seek additional funding to support the long term goals of human wildlife coexistence and sustainable livelihoods in this important region, ensuring that the area remains a haven for cheetahs and other globally threatened carnivores.
In the longer term, better farm management will assist in improving livestock production and range health, which will in turn assist with improving ecological diversity on farmlands and supporting more secure livelihoods for communities living with wildlife.
Our next steps include continuing our successful Farming for Conservation program through farmer training, farmers’ networks for peer-to-peer learning, livestock guarding dog placements, model farmers and demonstration farms. Our Conservation Research program will be monitoring cheetahs and wildlife populations in the Western Kalahari and our Engagement and Awareness program will be inspiring the youth and the general public on the importance of carnivores and environmental conservation. As well as these ongoing programs, we are launching a new Communities for Conservation program, which partners with communities to develop alternative livelihoods such as ecotourism, veld product harvesting and craft production. These livelihood approaches have potential to improve the benefits from wildlife and natural resources and harness the indigenous knowledge of the unique cultures in the region. With increased benefits from wildlife, communities can see a direct value from living alongside cheetahs and other carnivores and will be motivated to become involved in their conservation, enabling human wildlife coexistence in the Western Kalahari.
Yes. We are located 4 hours from Maun (the gateway to the Okavango Delta) and into the Western Kalahari. We look forward to a visit!