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Update on EWT Livestock Guardian Dog Project

Hi Sean, Holly and Stephanie

We have managed to place eight new LGD puppies over the last two months. Five of these puppies were placed in the Soutpansberg to alleviate human-carnivore conflict as a result of losses of livestock to leopard. There has been a 66% decline in the leopard population in the Soutpansberg over the last decade. It is very important to secure this area as safe for leopard as it is an important corridor that links various populations of leopard within Limpopo. The decline is therefore very worrying and we need to start securing safe space for these cats to survive going forward.

Joseph Hlako has also been working in the communities in the North of the Waterberg. We are noticing similar trends and he has uncovered a total of 7 leopard that have been poisoned in two communities over the last two years. This is unsustainable and it we don’t act now the Waterberg leopard population will also decline. Joseph have therefore working with these communities to alleviate carnivore conflict as well as educate them regarding the role that top order predators play in the environment. Joseph has also placed 4 LGD’s in these communities with rural farmers that have experienced high losses over the last year. These community members are very positive about the dogs and we look forward to determine whet her they are a viable non-lethal alternative to address carnivore conflict in these areas.

The five puppies placed in the Soutpansberg were all doing well. Unfortunately we lost one, it was killed by a large male baboon. This is the first LGD puppy that I have lost to baboon and I was very upset about it. None the less, the farmer made a lot of effort with the puppy and we will place another puppy on his farm, but this time we will keep it closer to the farm house until the puppy is big enough to defend itself against baboons.

  • Savimbi’s is still afraid of the cattle in particular one female Nguni which had hurt him. He is however sleeping with the goats, we have therefore decided to bond him with the goats instead of the cattle.

  • Koa is progressing so well and already going into the field. This dog has taken so well into guarding his herd and his herder and owner are very impressed with him.

  • Zeus was progressing so well until he was unfortunately killed by a baboon. The landowner had put so much effort into him and we will hopefully be placing another LGD on his farm. We will keep him closer to the farm house in the future.

  • Buffy has shown significant improvement and is now bonded with some goats he is starting to go out into the field. He is no longer biting the goat’s ears.

  • Shadow is a very playful dog with lots of energy and is in the second phase of bonding. He has been a challenge to bond to the cattle. We therefore made a walking line for him and he seems to be progressing better.

The three new puppies in the Waterberg are progressing very well. We also ran into some issues with one puppy. It was suffering from an intestinal tract infection and lost a lot of weight. We have therefore under the Vets instructions taken it out the field and placed it at Josephs house until it regains some weight and strength. Once it has recovered we will take it back into the field.

  • Jane has settled onto her new property. She has been on a walking line until the cattle have gotten used to her presence. She will be integrated into the herd over the next month.

  • Alice is working very well, she continues to guard her cattle and has sustained no losses over the last month. The farmer has requested to buy another LGD from the same line as Alice as he is very impressed with her on his farm.

  • Dianna continues to work well. She has sustained no losses to her livestock in 6 months. She is developing into a very successful LGD.

  • Snowy has developed into working LGD. Her stomach injury has completely healed and she has now been fully integrated into her herd. There has been a leopard present on the farm however she has had no losses to her herd.

  • Unnamed male: placement is progressing well. He is still in the bonding phase but the calves and he has bonded very well. Unfortunately the landowner lost another calf to a leopard predation this month. We are working with LEDET to try alleviate the problem as the community are up in arms.

  • We were not happy with Jumbo’s condition and took him to the Vet. He had an upset stomach and was very week and thin. He has been moved to Joseph Hlako’s house to regain strength and put on some weight. Jumbo already seems a different dog and his condition is improving every day.

  • Modisha’s kraal was completed, however there has been a problem with getting water to the kraal. The herder placed some young calves with the puppy and took the herd elsewhere. Mothers are very protective of their calves and have let the puppy know that. It has developed a fear for the cows. We are monitoring the situation closely to try give the young puppy some more confidence around the cows.

All in all its been a very busy and successful time with a few ups and downs. Unfortunately I also crashed my work vehicle. I hit a cow up in the Soutpansberg. Fortunately Insurance is going to repair it but I was very lucky to walk away from the accident unhurt.

Kind regards,

Derek van der Merwe

Carnivore Conservation Programme: Limpopo Regional Coordinator

Endangered Wildlife Trust

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