At first glance, providing farmers with Karakachans, Kangals and other large, aggressive dogs might not seem an ideal conservation strategy. However, biologists based in Bulgaria and Namibia are doing just that – and both farmers and wildlife are reaping the benefits.
Why Use Dogs at All?
Farmers who use dogs to protect their flocks do not need to rely upon poison, which has for decades been the predator-control method of choice. Poison-laced-bait kills “target species” such as leopards, bears and other large predators as well as rodents, vultures and smaller animals. When the poisoned creature itself dies, scavengers that feed upon its corpse may in turn become victims.
Predators avoid flocks attended by dogs…those that do approach are chased off, but are rarely if ever caught and injured.
A Turkish Giant goes to Africa
The huge Kangal is a rather rare breed of dog that has been used to protect livestock in Turkey for over 5,000 years. The Cheetah Conservation Fund, based in Namibia, Africa, has found Kangals and Anatolian Sheppards to be very effective in discouraging cheetahs and other large predators from attacking sheep and goats…livestock losses typically drop 80-90% once Kangals are employed. The group now administers the Livestock Guarding Dog program, which assists farmers in obtaining and caring for these otherwise unavailable dogs.So far, 375 dogs have been placed, and local interest in the program is growing (despite their size and protective nature, Kangals are usually quite tolerant of people and are known for their gentleness with children). In addition to locating breeders willing to donate these expensive dogs, Cheetah Conservation Fund staff members operate a breeding program and provide free training and veterinary care.
Thwarting Bears and Wolves in Bulgaria
Although Brown Bear and Gray Wolf populations have declined drastically throughout Europe, both species still threaten the livelihoods of livestock breeders in Bulgaria. As in other places, laying out poisoned baits has proven to be the most cost-effective method of predator control. The effects on Bulgaria’s wildlife, however, have been terrible. Eagles and other birds of prey, which frequently feed upon poisoned carcasses, have been particularly hard hit…at last count, only 31 pairs of Egyptian Vultures remained in the region.
The massive Karakachan, a breed long valued for its guarding abilities, has been enlisted to help Bulgaria’s domestic and wild animals. Somewhat like an English Mastiff in size and build, Karakachans scare off bears and wolves, and so eliminate the need for poisons. The dogs are uncommon and expensive, but local conservation groups and breeders are cooperating in an effort to provide farmers with pups and trained adults.
This Video describes the use of Kangals as Cheetah deterrents in Namibia.
Anatolian Shepherd Dog image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Tibilou
Karakachan Dog image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Karak