The Strange Way We Might Save Cheetahs From Extinction

“Since after extinction no one will be present to take responsibility, we have to take full responsibility now.” —Jonathan Schell, The Fate of the Earth

In A Nutshell

A number of factors have caused the population of cheetahs to plummet. Facing extinction, conservationists are turning to various creative ideas to keep the big cats extant. One strategy involves importing huge, fearsome guard dogs from Turkey to frighten the cheetah away from stalking within range of ranches and gun-toting farmers.

The Whole Bushel

The cheetah faces a number of unique issues for its continuation as a species. It exhibits a marked lack of genetic diversity—at some point during the last Ice Age, its numbers plummeted, and it survived only by extensive inbreeding. It breeds poorly in captivity. In the wild, it is forced to compete with far more formidable predators, who often strip it of its hard-won kill. Despite great breakaway speed, it is a poor hunter and cannot defend itself from hyenas, leopards, or lions. This weakness also means that kittens rarely make it to adulthood.

This frequently causes the big cats to attack farms and prey on domestic animals to survive, leading to conflict with humans. This generally leads to the cheetah getting gunned down by a farmer who cannot afford to lose stock to wild predation. The population of this big cat stood at 100,000 just a decade ago, but has fallen to an estimated 12,500 currently, leading many to believe that they are headed for extinction if steps are not soon taken.

One program dedicated to saving the cheetah from extinction is the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF). Begun in 1990 in Namibia, the home of the world’s largest cheetah population, the organization has found several unique solutions to keep the big cats safe. One of the CCF’s most innovative programs began in 1994 and involves importing a closely related dog breed called Kangals and Anatolian shepherds to Africa and giving them to farmers to help protect their herds. To date, over 350 dogs have been placed. Kangals and Anatolian shepherds are livestock guardian dogs from Turkey, of a primitive mastiff type. The largest specimens approach 70 kilograms (150 lb) and are called upon to take on wolves, bears, and jackals in their homeland. As they already hail from a hot and arid climate, these dogs do well in Namibia’s harshest areas.

The dogs are placed with herds while they are just puppies, allowing them to identify with livestock rather than humans. When cheetahs approach their ranch, they unleash an explosive bark. The big cats are notoriously timid; they would rather turn tail and seek out an easier snack than risk taking on the huge dog. Although they are meant to frighten away cheetahs, the dogs have proven capable of driving off baboons, caracals, leopards, and even human poachers. The CCF’s Livestock Guarding Dog program has proven so successful that there is a long waiting list for puppies, hopefully securing the future of the cheetah for many generations to come.

Show Me The Proof

Cheetah Conservation Fund: Livestock Guard Dogs
Wild Chronicles: Dog Saves Cheetah
Cheetah Conservation on The Tonight Show with David Letterman (video)
ABC News: Dogs Help Save Cheetah from Extinction

  • Rijul Ballal

    And rather interestingly cheetahs sometimes make a sound akin to a dog bark.

  • Would you let this go extinct?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2btR9rAcdzo

    • TheMadHatter

      Yes. By my own hand.

      • One kitten at a time 🙂

        • TheMadHatter

          Slowly. Painfully. In a bucket of water. Increase the pressure and tighten my hand precariously. Each kitten gets his own last few… Hours of pain. The bigger ones are fed the carcasses of their animals before being eaten alive by lions. Chained down so that they cannot use their speed, and muzzled. People will pay to watch the cheetah suffer. Then, once I am arrested for animal cruelty, others take up my cause. No cheetahs are left on the earth. Two baby cheetahs are found alive. They repopulate the earth with cheetahs. Start again. Drown them this time. Quickly. Make sure they die. Drown the adults, then remove their heads with a katana. Only a katana. No other blade. Get arrested. Someone else takes up the cause. They succeed. The zombie cheetahs then attack. They drown us. They cut off our heads with katanas. No other blade. Our shirts are wet with blood and tears. The zombie cheetahs die. Aliens are brought to earth by meteorites. They populate the earth. Technology allows them to bring us back to life. The cheetahs are not brought back to life. We make the aliens flee and establish a trading relationship. Two baby cheetahs survive and are beamed up to the trade ship. They become aliens. The end.

          • Clyde Barrow

            This could be the script of a bad Scientology movie starring John Travolta….

          • TheMadHatter

            This is so paradoxical. Bad movie with John Travolta in it? Brain SPLOSION.

          • Clyde Barrow

            A critic’s reaction to ‘Battlefield Earth’….

          • I will not let my children read this … ever! This makes Game of Throwns look like Full House 🙂

          • TheMadHatter

            I do think about choking baby cheetahs often. Very often. And human children. Very soft throats.

    • oouchan

      IT SQUEEKED!!!! Oh my….I’m so in love! I want to hug it!

    • Lisa 39

      Awww i’m in love now, awww!

  • Clyde Barrow

    “Since after extinction no one will be present to take responsibility, we have to take full responsibility now.”

    I like that quote.

  • oouchan

    Neat thinking! Best way to save an animal…..by thinking outside the box. No kills and the animals stay safe.

    Cool.

  • DaniellaPolite

    Its very good and weird way to save the Cheetah in the Forest from the Hunter.
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