Botswana has suffered with below-average rains for the last couple of years and by early 2016 many farmers in Botswana were battling with decreased yields, poor grass coverage and starving livestock. When livestock are in poor condition and wild prey species are rapidly declining, predators are more likely to predate on unprotected livestock. Although CCB has been actively promoting the use of protective methods to help prevent attacks on livestock, many farmers have seen increases in livestock depredation as a result of the drought. CCB continues to assist farmers who are experiencing human-wildlife conflict and our teams have been busy attending farms to assist with implementing protective measures that will help farmers to avoid livestock depredation. If you need assistance in dealing with predator conflict, please contact our community teams (see our contacts page for contact details).
The implementation of sustainable farming methods can increase the productivity of your farm - a fact that can decrease conflict between farmers and predators. If farmers are not loosing livestock to predators, they are less likely to kill predators such as the cheetah. For quite some time, Cheetah Conservation Botswana (CCB) has been training livestock guarding dog (LSGD) puppies at our demonstration farm and placing them with farmers that are experiencing conflict with predators. The farmlands of Ghanzi and Jwaneng are prime cheetah habitats and CCB assists farmers in these particular areas in order to facilitate the survival of the cheetah species. LSGD's, if trained and cared for properly, can eliminate livestock losses due to depredation by barking, chasing and even attacking predators that approach their flock. Starting in November 2015, seven puppies were placed with farmers in Ghanzi and 12 puppies were given out farmers in Jwaneng. These dogs are now being monitored closely by CCB’s community outreach officers and regular veterinary care such as de-worming, sterilization and other vaccinations are also provided. Making sure these dogs are healthy and ready for the task ahead of them will go a long way to ensuring that they are successful at reducing conflict between farmers and carnivores.
Botswana is home to numerous researchers and conservationists whose goal is to help promote the preservation of Africa’s most threatened large carnivore species. Unfortunately, due to Botswana’s remoteness and the sheer number of conservationists, it is often difficult to facilitate communication and coordination between all the stakeholders that work towards conserving these species. In March 2016, CCB hosted Botswana’s first ever Large Carnivore Workshop, bringing together all of Botswana’s large mammalian carnivore experts together in one place. Over two days, these experts consolidated all their data and knowledge to develop updated and accurate distribution maps for each species and discussed the future activities necessary to help conserve these species. Moving forward we will use these maps and the combined research efforts of these professionals to develop population estimates for the entire large carnivore guild (lions, leopards, cheetahs, African wild dogs, spotted hyenas and brown hyenas) which will in turn be used to help the Botswana government make informed decisions about wildlife and land use at a policy level. Thank you to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, KAZA and SAVE for their assistance in organising and funding this workshop. We would also like to thank the researchers and conservationists who travelled many miles to attend the workshop – without your willingness to share your information this workshop would not have been possible. The dedication and hard work shown by these wildlife professionals gives us hope that we may still be able to secure a bright future for Botswana’s many threatened species.
“Today was the best day of my life because I got to see a lion!” said William after he took part in CCB’s latest education initiative in Maun. The Coaching For Conservation (C4C) program, which sees environmental education delivered in a fun and engaging way, is a partnership between CCB and the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust. Leopotswe Primary School has taken part in this term’s C4C After School Program, which sees the students take part in an 8-week course about Botswana’s wildlife, the importance of the ecosystem and why we need to conserve animals in order to ensure a healthy future for Botswana. These students were also lucky enough to attend an exciting day trip into the Okavango Delta where the students got to see Botswana’s wildlife up close, including elephants, antelopes, baboons and five lions. These bush days, kindly sponsored by Letaka Safaris, allow the students to gain a positive experience with wildlife and show them how wildlife can be an asset to the country rather than a burden to its citizens. Now that the students understand the importance of these animals and the environment, we hope that they will develop into wildlife ambassadors within their communities and will help to promote conservation and coexistence between humans and wildlife.