Submitted by: Cheetah Conservation Botswana
Implemented country: Botswana
Title: Sheep Dogs Protecting the Eco-System of the Kalahari Desert
Rebecca Klein is a wildlife biologist. Her biggest priority is protecting wildlife from becoming extinct in the Kalahari Desert, the last refuge for cheetahs. During the last 100 years these beautiful wildcats were decimated by 90 per cent. Today they are protected but still massively threatened by bigger predators in the national parks or by poachers or farmers protecting their livestock and claiming a larger habitat. Rebecca Klein saw only one solution: An initiative for cheetah conservation and for teaching sustainable livestock farming and agriculture. “Be the change you seek in the world”, she said to herself and founded the Cheetah Conservation Botswana Education Camp (CCB) in 2003, to which she has been dedicating all her strength. If she has any time left after research, teaching workshops, and working with the camps, she enjoys travelling all over the world, hiking, mountain-biking, or playing the guitar or the violin.
The CCB Camp is located on an area of 2000 hectares in the Kalahari. During the first several years the CCB team dedicated most of its time to research. The camp uses solar energy, garbage is recycled in an eco-friendly manner, water is used only sparingly and waste water is treated. Sustainability is taught in its many forms of application. The corresponding theoretical knowledge is taught in regularly held workshops for school groups of not more than 60 students in 2- to 5-day workshops where kids learn about the importance of an intact eco-system with wild animals as an important component. Cheetahs are integrated into the system as Botswana’s “poster children” for biodiversity of which the people ought to be very proud. The CCB team visits directly affected Kalahari villages, the farmers and livestock farmers in Ghanzi, Kgalagadi, as well as in the southern districts.
CCB also takes mobile workshops to the villages. Workshop topics are correctly recording livestock losses through predators, and protecting livestock from predators without killing them, for example by fencing off young animals or by using sheep dogs, which was a novel idea in Botswana that needed quite a while of getting used to. This was achieved by organizing annual sheep-dog competitions and offering great prizes, such as 2-day safaris. Prizes are presented by the minister responsible, and the media are present. Fewer cheetahs have been killed ever since sheep dogs are in use to protect the livestock. In sum, CCB has held 18 workshops for 550 farmers during the last 2 years. An additional 6 workshops are being offered in cooperation with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks for another 350 farmers. Between 2008 and 2010 CCB also supported 70 farmers on-site. CCB participates in farmers‘ meetings and is represented at the 6 annual environment and agricultural fairs with its own trade-fair stand. In 2010 a micro-showcase model was set up in the camp for wildlife-friendly agriculture, first with a herd of goats, then with a shepherd and his sheep dog.
“Take action to generate a positive and sustainable future for yourself, your community and your world. Everyone has a role to play!”