Anatolian Shepherd dog - photo by Daniel Greene (Flickr)
Employing dogs to protect cats is a sensible bit of wildcat conservation. It is the kind of wildcat conservation that I like. The opposite behavior and treatment can be found in the Nebraska Legislative Bill 747. Both deal with the same issues, however.
With increased human world population destined to rise to 9 billion by 2050 at an annual rise of 75 million, we are pushing wildcats off the planet. Actually we are pushing everything off the planet.
We are encroaching on the wild cat habitat such that they are forced to live on farmland. The classic case is the cheetah in Africa, particularly Namibia, the "home territory" of the splendid cheetah. Another example is the mountain lion in Nebraska that attacks livestock because it is there and the farm was probably built on the mountain lion's home territory.
Employing dogs to protect the cheetah from being shot is a kind of lateral thinking. Another good (even better) example is described here: clever cat conservation.
Cheetahs, leopards and hyenas are being "protected" from being shot by farmers in parts of South Africa by installing Anatolian Shepherd dogs to protect livestock including cattle. The presence of the large dog keeps these predators at bay, which in turn removes the necessity for the farmer to kill the predator to protect his livestock.
Apparently there has been a high success rate with farmers reporting 95% to 100% reductions in losses of livestock. The concept is to reduce conflict between farmer and cheetah. It is an interesting model because when a human and cheetah come into conflict the human shoots the cheetah, while a large dog and cheetah avoid conflict! It makes you wonder who is the smarter, dog and cat or human.
The program of using dogs to protect livestock to then protect the wildcats is being managed by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (provision of husbandry, food and veterinary costs for 12 months for the dogs) and the Wildlife Damage Prevention Group (the training and monitoring of the dogs).
I would like to return to the Nebraska Bill referred to above. This is draft law. In Nebraska the way they intend to deal with wildcats attacking livestock is to shoot them. This is simplistic, narrow minded, blinkered, short sighted, stupidity. It is living in the past and shows a complete lack of an ability to think. And it is the legislators, the leaders of the community who are the idiots.
There must be a better way for human to live in harmony with nature and the wildcats. The first step is to start thinking about population growth. The second is to start thinking about improving life quality not quantity, curbing consumerism and to stop chasing the almighty buck.
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by: Daniel Greene
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