Anatolian Sheepdog Helping to Save Endangered Cheetah | Livestock

In less than a hundred years the cheetah population dwindled from 100,000 to just 7,500 worldwide. In Southern Africa less than 1,000 roam free and the fastest land animal is locked in a battle to survive against ever increasing odds. While roaming free, mainly in Namibia, they often make contact with farmers livestock and when hungry it will help itself to an easy meal of mainly sheep or goat. The farmer then hunts down the cheetah and kills it. It is this practice which directly led to the steady decline of the cheetah.A solution to the problem between cheetahs and livestock came about when the Anatolian sheepdog was introduced into the pens of the livestock. This plan works exceedingly well when young dogs or pups from the age of 6-8 weeks are raised with the herd. Anatolian Sheepdogs naturally bond with the sheep or goats they are kept with. These dogs stay with the herd and are quiet, calm and confident and alert to any changes in herd behaviour and the surroundings.The Cheetah Outreach aims to protect the Cheetah in the wild and to further this aim the Outreach program has started to train young Anatolian Sheepdogs and then place them with farmers whose livestock is threatened by wild animals such as the cheetah. After bonding with the farmer’s livestock the dog takes over the guarding of the flocks. The dog will either scare off the would be intruder or kill it. This is a win situation for both the cheetah and the farmer. If the cheetah were to kill any livestock it would usually be hunted and killed by the farmer. But now the cheetah is scared off by dog and the farmer suffers no stock loss with the result that the cheetah lives. Although the cheetah is considered dangerous it will think twice before tackling these tall, rugged and powerful looking dogs.The Anatolian Sheepdog was bred primarily to protect livestock from predators mainly bears and wolves. In the barren, parched Anatolian Plateau region of Turkey an area of hot summers, cold winters and little rain these dogs fiercely guarded owners livestock for over 6,000 years. These dogs are bred to withstand the rugged terrain and can survive on minimal food and water when required. The physically imposing males can reach up to 75cm at the shoulder and weigh up to 65kg and can reach a top speed of 75kmph. Medium-length coats and coarse light-coloured hair provides effective cooling down of the body as well as maintaining good insulation for the cold winters. The Anatolian Sheepdog has uncanny ability in protecting livestock and this not only arises from their physical attributes-body proportion, keen eyesight, finely tuned hearing ability and excellent sense of smell-but also their inbred loyalty and fierce possessiveness and protective instinct towards their surroundings and family.Any intruder that threatens the herd is aggressively confronted by these dogs who are not dependent on there owners for direction as they are more than capable of making decisions on their own.

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