Thursday, October 6, 2005

Dogs saving cats

Outstanding work.

An innovative program that provides guard dogs to livestock farmers at a modest cost may be helping to save wild cheetahs in southern Africa.

The decade-old effort is the brainchild of Laurie Marker. The U.S. biologist moved to Namibia in 1990 to help prevent livestock losses that spurred ranchers to shoot and kill hundreds of cheetahs each year.

[. . .]

... During her research, she came across the Anatolian shepherd, a breed used by Turkish shepherds for thousand of years as the first line of defense against predators.

The canine's formidable height (they stand 27 to 29 inches/69 to 74 centimeters tall) can help intimidate predators. The dogs live with their flocks and are independent thinkers, needing little direction to do their jobs. Their short coats are also well suited to Namibia's hot climate.

With their instinctive guarding ability, Anatolia shepherds have successfully warded off more than cheetahs on Namibian farms—jackals, caracal lynx, leopards, and baboons have been turned away.

[. . .]

Dr. Marker has been doing excellent work in saving the cheetahs, whose population has declined from 100,000 in 1900 to less than 13,000 today.

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