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Thursday, 9 June 2011

More farmers learn about co-existing with cheetah and other predators.

CCF was recently invited to give a talk to the Duineveld Farmers’ Association meeting in western Namibia near the town of Khorixas. The communal farmers were gathering on this day to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of their association, thus a commercial farmer in the area decided that it was a good opportunity for CCF to give a talk to these farmers. The farmers that are part of this association are furthermore involved in the communal conservancy known as Sorris Sorris.

The main idea of the talk was to address the conflict between these farmers and the predators in the area that occasionally kill their livestock. As part of the Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) programme in Namibia, the establishment of Sorris Sorris Conservancy has led to increasing numbers of wildlife in the area. With this increase in game populations and the extra protection provided to predators, the predator numbers in this area have increased substantially. Due to the increase in predators, especially cheetahs, spotted hyaenas and lions, the conflict between the farmers and predators has intensified within the conservancy.

The commercial farmer that invited CCF is concerned about the livelihoods of the community and the intensification of conflict with predators. He recognised the need to train the community to look after their livestock and thus protect them and the predators from the consequences of conflict. He therefore contacted CCF and requested that we attend the farmers’ association meeting to talk about predator conflict and improvements in livestock management.

The community welcomed me to their meeting and provided ample time to talk about their livestock losses. The meeting went exceptionally well, with input from the men and women present – they were interested in learning about the predators and expressed their needs and concerns openly. We discussed the importance of predators in the ecosystem, the use of the conservancy framework to manage human-wildlife conflict and livestock management tools such as confining livestock at night, using human shepherds and livestock guarding dogs.

Once the presentation was completed, I led them through our livestock kill identification demonstration – a technique that CCF has used for several years to educate farmers. This demonstration involves the use of model goats that have been ‘killed’ by different types of predators that leave different signs on and around the carcass. The farmers can then use this knowledge to identify the type of predator responsible for their losses and implement better management practices to guard against these predators. The photograph below shows the group of farmers with the model goats used in this exercise.

The farmers were grateful for the time that CCF spent with them and expressed the need for more training days such as this one. Plans with other Namibian NGOs have since been made to bring more training courses to these farmers in the near future. Conservancies in Namibia are an example of local communities actively involved in conserving biodiversity – something that is rarely found in other parts of the world.

Supporting these people in their endeavour to live in harmony with wildlife is therefore among CCF’s main priorities.

Gail Potgieter

PS - Please support this and other CCF programmes by participating in this year's Chewbaaka Memorial Challenge --our most ambitious to date. Every donation through 31 August, up to US$300,000, will be doubled thanks to a select group of donors. Please help us honour Chewbaaka's legacy by making a donation here.

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