Endangered Species May Avoid Being Killed If Farms Used Guard Dogs
November 27, 2013

Endangered Species May Avoid Being Killed If Farms Use Guard Dogs

April Flowers for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

A new study from the University of Kent reveals that guard dogs can significantly reduce conflicts between livestock and large carnivores, such as cheetahs and leopards. Their use would help to reduce unwarranted killing of endangered species in South Africa, according to the research team from the university's School of Anthropology and Conservation.

The study, published in Wildlife Society Bulletin, examined the effect of guard dogs on the protection of farm animals across South Africa.

The findings revealed that, by using livestock guarding dogs, livestock losses from predators were eliminated on 91 percent of the farms studied. Each farmer saved over $3,000 a year due to the reduction in livestock losses.

The scientists also investigated how the presence of a guard dog changed the tolerance of farmers toward cheetahs roaming their lands, finding that farmers were noticeably more tolerant. This tolerance results in a greater prevalence of cheetahs and other predators on their land, compared to farmers that did not use guard dogs.

Nikki Rust, of the University’s Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), said, "This research has shown for the first time that livestock guarding dogs can successfully be used in South Africa to protect livestock from attack by predators as large as leopards or small as jackals."

"This is a true win-win solution to reduce conflict between livestock and predators, because it almost eliminates livestock losses to predators, saving the farmer a lot of money, whilst increasing the tolerance of predators from the farmers, thereby reducing the chance of using lethal control on threatened carnivores," added Rust.

Professor Douglas Macmillan of DICE added, "Retaliatory killing by farmers is a major threat to the survival of many large carnivore species. This study shows that livestock deaths can be avoided through the deployment of highly trained dogs, and I am sure that there are many similar situations around the world where such dogs could make quite a difference to the survival chances of large carnivores."