World Migratory Bird Day is a global awareness campaign day, celebrated to highlight the need for the protection of migratory birds and their habitats. It is usually celebrated annually at the end of summer (April - May) when birds starts to migrate to Europe as well as central and north Africa. This year's theme was 'Migratory Birds and People - Together Through Time' and it was emphasising the cultural, social, historic, economic and spiritual relationships between birds and people. In Botswana, it was celebrated at SOS Village in Tlokweng on Saturday 28th April 2012 and it involved school children spreading messages of conservation through songs, presentations and drama to showcase Botswana's diverse culture. Cheetah Conservation Botswana was invited to set up a stall and share their work with the Tlokweng community and this was attended by communications officer, Connie Sebati.
The study to assess conflict mitigation methods to reduce human predator conflict is progressing well. On the 23rd of April 2012, the CCB team packed their trucks in preparation for the journey to Kacgae. The aim was to spend 2 weeks working with the community to build strong and appropriate kraals for the selected participants. The team was offered a camp site by the Kacgae Chief and the temporary camp was set up. Later in the afternoon, the CCB team met with the 10 selected participants who would be receiving support. The agreement for participation was clearly laid out so everyone understood their responsibilities. The kraal building sites were mapped out and work began. The job of kraal building includes digging in and burying of poles, fencing of the kraals, putting in gates and laying acacia branches around the kraal. They must be high enough to keep out leopard and lion and dug down into the ground to keep out digging hyena's. Construction took a week and a half to complete. By the end, CCB and the community had built 10 new strong kraals to keep livestock safe from cheetah and other predators. The new kraals were even christened with the birth of baby goats. At least we know they will be safe at night now!
The Research team from Cheetah Conservation Botswana’s Ghanzi Camp recently had a fantastic experience collaborating on a weeklong spoor survey in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR). This is the second largest Protected Area in the world and it’s largely considered an important area for threatened carnivore species such as cheetah, wild dog and lion. The aim of the project was to assess the numbers of these species within the area. The survey, organised by Glyn Maude of Central Kalahari Research Group, involved 12 vehicles and over 30 people covering all of the roads and experienced Kalahari San trackers searching for the tracks of the elusive carnivores.
Research and Camp Coordinators Andrea Dekrout and Gavin Reynolds led teams including two visitors from Denver Zoo, Mike Murray and Felise Buckheart, our March volunteer Chris Davis and, most importantly three trackers Metsibeli, Lelongwe and Opiro. The teams worked very well and managed the difficult CKGR terrain and conditions in our toyota hiluxes, just as well as the giant land cruisers and land rovers. The skills of the rest of the Research Group, Phale Phale and Jane Horgan, were well utilized, providing expert help out in other vehicles.
While the focus of the project was counting tracks of predators; the CCB teams were lucky enough to see 4 cheetahs as well as lions, jackals, honey badgers and wild dogs. The study was a fantastic opportunity for researchers and conservation groups to work together and the results will help inform all of our work in the future. The initial results indicate that cheetah numbers are very low in the CKGR. While this is disappointing, it does reinforce CCB’s position of concentrating conservation efforts in farming and marginal land where cheetah survive better away from the competition of larger lion and hyena.
Cheetah Conservation Botswana (CCB), in collaboration with Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP), Kanye district office, held a farmers workshop at Mabule village in Southern District on the 3 April 2012. The workshop was attended by farmers from seven villages from Dikhukhung, Leporung, Tshidilamolomo, Mmakgori, Mabule, Sekhutlane and Lerolwane. Farmers Associations’ members in the region were used to invite the farmers to the workshop. It was held under the theme, “MY KNOWLEDGE, A BETTER WAY FOR SUSTAINABLE CONSERVATION”.
Cheetah Conservation Botswana did a presentation on the use of sustainable practices and methods of conserving wildlife and livelihoods as well as the need for coexistence with predators. They also touched on the use of effective livestock management techniques such as the use of livestock guarding dogs (LSGD). Other stake holders who came to present at the workshop included the Department of Forestry and Range Resources (DFRR), The Botswana Police Services (BPS), Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) and Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP).
There were requests for CCB to look at possibility of using LSGD in cattle as there are farmers across the border that are using this method.