The world is full of amazing small and big creatures and World Wildlife day on March 3rd every year is an opportunity to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of life we have. The theme for 2018 is ‘Big Cats – Predators under Threat’ and we joined the world in celebrating the big cats of the world from cheetah, lion, leopard, snow leopard, tiger, jaguar and mountain lions. The theme reminds us all that cheetahs are on the brink of extinction with only 6,900 individuals left in the wild. Habitat loss, illegal trade and persecution by livestock farmers remain the biggest threats to their survival. Despite this decline, Botswana hosts about 2,000 cheetahs and remains one of the last strongholds for the species. We are working around the clock with relevant stakeholders to battle the cheetah decline and facilitate coexistence between cheetahs and the farming communities in Botswana. In order to reverse the decline of cheetahs and other big cats, the time to act is now. We need to work together to protect these magnificent creatures by finding sustainable working solutions that benefit both the wildlife and the communities that live alongside them. It is our responsibility to ensure that we create a healthy, balanced and sustainable planet. Happy World Wildlife Day!
Great minds when put together can achieve even greater things and this is what transpired at the recent Second Botswana Biodiversity Symposium in Maun on the 13th – 15th February. The symposium was hosted by the Department of National Museum and Monuments under the theme, Biodiversity Management – A strategy for Sustainable Development and Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation. Botswana is rich in biodiversity and the symposium brought together about 80 participants ranging from conservationists and researchers to discuss strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change conditions while providing sustainable livelihood options for rural communities. CCB had the opportunity to present our research findings from our camera trap surveys in the Ghanzi wildlife management areas. On the whole, it was a perfect occasion to learn and share current research in Botswana, discuss community development experiences, network with various practitioners and get to know what other people are doing in their respective fields. We are thrilled to have been part of the symposium and hope that this will open more collaborative opportunities and assist us in making real differences in the lives of cheetahs and local farming communities in Botswana.
Established in 2010, Cheetah Conservation Botswana (CCB)’s demonstration farm has been set up to showcase non-lethal farm management techniques that can be utilised to reduce livestock depredation. The farm serves as a practical demonstration area for the use of a range of livestock management techniques to minimise predation, optimize herd health and maximise production. The farm is located at CCB’s research camp in Ghanzi and is currently home to 53 goats, three sheep, and two livestock guard dogs (LGD). Due to the incorporation of a slew of responsible management techniques including LGDs, the size of the herd has grown significantly over the years. The demonstration farm is also home to our LGD training facility, where puppies are trained with our LGDs and livestock before being placed with farmers experiencing conflict with carnivores. The LGD programme has proved successful in reducing livestock loss due to depredation and promoting coexistence with carnivores especially cheetahs. During the last quarter of 2017, 12 puppies were trained and placed with farmers within the Ghanzi district. These puppies increased the total number of puppies placed through CCB’s LGD programme to 42 in the Ghanzi area since the programme started back in 2010. We are expecting the next litter of puppies to arrive for training at the farm soon, and we are looking forward to this exercise that we love so much. It brings us joy and feels great to know that we are making real a difference in the lives of farmers while at the same time, making a real contribution to cheetah conservation.
Cheetah Conservation Botswana (CCB) put an everlasting smile upon the young faces of 60 students from three junior secondary schools from the Ghanzi District, between the 14th of December 2017 and 29th of January 2018. This time of the year the Kalahari comes alive, and our Tiisano education centre becomes surrounded with luxuriantly green acacia trees and blossoming bushes all scattered over bright limestone that seems to roll on endlessly. For children visiting our bush camp at this time of year, bush trails and nature walks take on a richness and diversity that is seldom seen at other times of year.
This journey started back on the 30th November 2017 when we hosted an inter-school sports competition in Ghanzi to celebrate International Cheetah Day. Through the searing heat, the youngsters pushed and puffed relentlessly to emerge as cheetah champions and to qualify for the prize of these fun-filled bush camps. The winning teams from Ghanzi Senior School, Rethuseng and Itekeng Junior Schools who were all treated to a special bush camp at our education facility. The students enjoyed an array of outdoor games such as the cheetah/livestock coexistence game, an obstacle course, the cheetah survival game, and the food web game. On the second day, the students were taken on a game drive at Tautona lodge in Ghanzi where they marvelled at different animals such as the lions, impalas, springboks, giraffes, ostriches, gemsbok, elands and warthogs. Students also had an opportunity to visit the vulture restaurant at Thakadu, run by Kalahari Research and Conservation where they were given a talk about vulture conservation before being taken on a guided tour to view different species of vultures. It was a fun-filled experience and the students thoroughly enjoyed themselves and headed home ready to share the conservation message with their friends and family back home. We hope that by inspiring these youths that they can go on and become ambassadors for environmental conservation, helping to secure our beautiful Botswana for many years to come.