The Farmer Carnivore Help Hotline number is for farmers across Namibia to be able to contact The Cheetah Conservation Fund directly 24/7 to freely discuss any issues relating to cheetahs and other carnivores on their farms. These issues can include a problem animal and livestock predation to wanting to gain further information on carnivore ecology.
The farmer hotline was set up in January 2015 and since then has received a steady number of calls that relate not just to cheetahs but also leopards and African wild dogs. The hope is that by sharing CCF’s 25 years of experience with dealing with human-wildlife conflict farmers have a person, in this case the CCF ecology manager, Dr. Louisa Richmond-Coggan to talk to about their issues. The cases reported so far have ranged from a cheetah being caught inside a cage trap on a farm to species identification and best practice for livestock management. Advice is tailored individually to the farmer’s circumstances such as livestock and carnivore species involved as one mitigation method does not fit all. CCF also liaises with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to ensure that their policies and regulation are followed.
The aim is to share current research findings with the farming communities to enable them to better understand carnivore ecology, biology, prey preferences, hunting behaviour as having this knowledge allows farmers to better their livestock and in turn reduce loss. For example it has been determined that black-backed jackals live in pairs (male/female) they will defend a territory and keep out other jackals. When this pair is killed their territory is taken over by multiple pairs and in turn sustainably increasing the number of jackals in the area and potentially conflict issues. This is also the case for cheetahs and leopards, removal of one leads to an increase in the number of subsequent individuals found across the same territory.
During the conversation it can be determined if the farmer could benefit from having a livestock guarding dog (LSGD), based upon the issues they are having on their farm. The dog application is completed over the phone and passed onto our LSGD manager, their application the gets recorded and scored. Calls are often passed onto the LSGD manager to share their advice and experience on interim solutions before they receive a dog. Some farmers have been visited as their location was close by to farms were already designated for LSGD checks to discuss their issues in more detail.
Additional information collected through the phone call is presence points of numerous carnivores across Namibia. This information gets feed into the Environmental Information Service, Mammal Atlas and The Large Carnivore Management Association of Namibia which ensures that the information gets to the necessary specialist working groups. CCF has created a human-wildlife conflict database into which information gathered from different sources gets linked to ensure we have a current and detailed overview of issues occurring across Namibia.
The farmer phone combines the knowledge and experiences collected over the years across its programmes; ecology, LSGDs and education, making it a truly multidisciplinary approach to human-carnivore conflict across Namibia with the sole aim to secure the long-term survival of the cheetah and other carnivore populations now and into the future.
The Carnivore Help Hotline number (below) is now in the Namibian phone book and has been emailed out to partner organisations: +264 815595344
(This article originally appeared on CCF. It has been reprinted here with permission.)