While talking with experts is good, at times ordinary people provide valuable insights into Cheetah and Wild Dog Conservation.
On our way from Nata, Botswana to Gobabis, Namibia we stopped over in Ghanzi for the night. A rugged camp with small lapa (covered sitting area) next to a waterhole. Rianna has worked the reception and handled the small restaurant for four years. She grew up in Ghanzi, left for a brief spell for New Zealand returned and loves her life. Ghanzi is a small community where everybody pretty much knows everything about everybody.
The Thakadu Camp doesn’t and never has engaged in trophy hunting, according to Rianna. Though they do shoot for the pot, apparent by what’s available on the menu. Supposedly, contrary to what I had thought, trophy hunting is still allowed on private farms as long as the farm has the required permits. Its on government land where the ban on hunting exists.
On our way through Ghanzi we saw several signs for Safari camps. One entrance was locked up, come to find out that the place had closed down six years ago, then recently sold and burned to the ground a couple of weeks back. At least two private hunting concessions remain active in the area, however, most are simply camps with some plains game according to Rianna.
When I asked about predators the discussion got interesting.
The Cheetah family
Not too long ago a male Cheetah followed a female on to the farm where Rianna works. The female Cheetah liked to hunt the Springbok, who the owner (Chris) is also partial to, so there was a problem. Chris decided to introduce Impala, hoping the Cheetah would switch her meal preference. Apparently she did and all was well for a bit. Then three cubs were born and the female discovered the sheep. They were easier to hunt with three cubs in tow. The sheep are bred for commercial purposes so this could present another problem. For a while losing a sheep here and there was tolerable. However, it really got out of hand when the female started teaching her cubs how to take down sheep.
Something had to be done.
They tried a guard dog provided by local Cheetah Conservation. Things began to change for the better for the sheep until the dog got bitten by a snake and died. Two more dogs were brought in. One quickly developed a taste for lamb chops for dinner… it didn’t take long for the other to follow suit. The dogs were destroyed.
Then finally, a cross bred Anatolian was given a try. This seems to have worked. Currently two such dogs and a shepherd guard the sheep herd, which must be huge as they had 85 lambs born this spring!
What happened to the Cheetah Family?
The male started roaming to other farms and got shot. The female and two cubs got caught in snares. The remaining cub was removed by Cheetah Conservation and relocated. Sadly she didn’t survive. Like her father, she too was shot by an angry farmer.
Three Wild Dog Packs
Rianna has a friend with a large commercial sheep farm near the Botswana Namibian border. The farm is also home to not one, but three, packs of Wild (Painted) Dogs. This past year the Dogs killed 200 sheep! Now that’s a problem. What are they to do? Unfortunately they haven’t found any good solutions to keep both sheep and Dogs alive. So it doesn’t look good for the Dogs.
When asked if its lack of wild prey or easy pickings Rianna thought the latter more likely. With that said she tells us about the bomas that are required to keep predators out and that if built properly they are effective. However, the age old problem, convincing farmers to not only build them, but use them is ever the reality. (No different from Marnus’ challenge with keeping the lions away from the cattle.)
And so life and death in Africa continue where Cheetah and Wild Dog conservation remains an enormous challenge as human-wildlife conflicts abound. And sadly, the predators are usually the losers.
Read more about the Cheetah
Follow our adventures
Want to join us in helping people saving wildlife?
100% of your gift will go to save wildlife, we totally pay our own way.