We’ve forever heard of the age-long rivalry between cats and dogs. Dogs chase cats, cats chase mice, etc. However seldom do we associate dogs-chasing-cats with something that might be a positive or even life-giving occurrence. Yet in the African country of Namibia, the instinct dogs have to chase is actually saving the lives of aggressive cheetahs in the country.
Over the last few years the cheetahs in Namibia have been negatively impacting cattle-raising ranchers by hunting their livestock. In order to survive, many of the farms have to shoot the cheetahs in order to protect their livelihood, causing a great uproar with the Namibia’s Cheetah Conservation Fund. Just one hundred years ago in 1900, there were believed to be over 100,000 of the beautiful wild cats who roamed freely in this same region. According to the most recent reports from CNN, there may be fewer than 10,000 cheetahs left, as the population of the lightning-fast animals has been severely depleted due to the ranchers protecting their flocks and herds.
The ranchers struggle to survive and feed their families when the cheetahs hunt, and the cheetah population is steadily dwindling, so what solution remains? If the cheetahs are not hunting the cattle out of necessity and hunger, but rather because the animals wander into their domain (as the CCF, Cheetah Conservation Fund, founders suggest), then might there be a better way to deter them from chasing and killing the herds?
Representatives from the Namibia Cheetah Conservation Fund have worked to encourage these farmers to hold a cease fire against the invading cheetahs, and instead opt to tend their livestock with the help of domestic dogs. While this might sound surprising, the main breeds of choice are the Anatolian Shepherds and Kangals, both of which can grow up to 150 lbs in size, and have an impressive and intimidating presence.
Though the bulky dogs might not be able to keep up neck-and-neck with one of the world’s fastest running animals, having the dogs guard the cattle poses enough of a threat to the cheetahs, that many would-be hunters are fleeing the farmlands without hunting the cows and sheep. These two dog breeds in specific are a phenomenal choice for this particular task, as according to the CCF’s Laurie Mark, these dogs have been defending cattle from predators for thousands of years. Nearly 400 dogs have been placed on these ranchers to partner with the farmers in protecting the animals as they graze. Ever since this experiment, CNN stated that ranchers seem to be losing from 80-100% less livestock than they had before when guns were the other method of deterring the hunting cheetahs from the land.
In a surprising turn of events, it would appear that playing on the dog-chasing-cat instinct has actually proven to save not only the lives of the herds, but also the very lives of the wild cats who threaten them.