Livestock guardian dogs have long been used to protect farm animals--and even penguins!-- from dangerous predators. In Namibia, Africa, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs and Kangals watch over flocks of goats and sheep, but also indirectly help the endangered cheetah.
Over 95 percent of Namibia's cheetahs live on livestock farmland due to environmental pressures. Although the big cats are a protected species in this country, farmers are allowed to kill any threat to their animals.
In the 1980's alone 10,000 cheetahs (the current total worldwide population) were killed or moved off farms. The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) believes that most of the killings were by farmers.
In response, CCF started the Livestock Guarding Dogs Program to provide Anatolian Shepherd Dogs and Kangals to protect sheep and goats, while easing the conflict between farmers and cheetahs. The Livestock Guarding Dogs Program has resulted in an 80 to 100 percent decrease in livestock losses and less retaliation against cheetahs.
In the last 19 years, around 450 dogs have been placed with farmers. Cheetah numbers hit a low of 2,500 in 1986, but has since reached about 3,000 in Namibia, the largest remaining wild cheetah population in the world. Now there is a waiting list for the dogs and the program has expanded to other countries. Unfortunately cheetahs still face threats on game ranches and cattle farms where the dogs are not suited.
The livestock guardian dogs do their job with little violence. They're not trained to chase or attack and instead use barking and posture to scare predators away. Cheetahs are not normally aggressive and will usually quickly retreat from a noisy dog.
The Livestock Guarding Dog Program is such a creative way to protect an endangered species. If you'd like to help out, visit the CCF web site to sponsor a dog. The program costs over $40,000 a year to breed and care for the pups.