Jun 03

Anatolian Shepherds

by in Africa, South Africa

I pet a cheetah yesterday. His name was Chobee. He weighed about as much as me, and I sat next to him and pet him. It was super cool. He even purred, in the cheetah’s deep rumbling way.

This was is in Cape Town at the Cheetah Outreach Center. Before we petted Chobee we had to use purel and we were safety briefed. They told us: Go around from the back, do not touch the head, legs and tail—only the back and sides, do not touch his tummy or use your finger tips or rub his fur the wrong way because that tickles and he does not like that, use a flat hand to pet. Sum up? You must pet his sides and back with a flat hand and…DO NOT TICKLE THE CHEETAH!

Unfortunately Chobee’s kind are in trouble.

Cheetah numbers in South Africa are declining:  100 years ago there were 100,000 cheetahs left in the whole world. Now, there are only 7,500 cheetahs left, in South Africa there are only 800.

The main causes of death to cheetahs are humans. Also, a minor hazard is their need for cool-downs.

Cheetahs are built for speed. They are the fastest land mammal and can reach speeds of up to 100 kilometers per hour. They have flexible backbones that allow them to take longer strides and streamlined skulls. In fact, a cheetah moves about 8 meters in one stride and they do THREE strides per second! Unfortunately, a cheetah can only keep this pace up for about 20-30 seconds, during which, their body temperature will rise to almost fatal levels. Whether or not the cheetah makes the kill, he needs to cool down for about half-an-hour after the chase. During this period he is extremely vulnerable to bigger and/or badder predators, such as Hyenas and Leopards.

Where to find great quantities of helpless food? A farm or ranch of course! Cheetahs and other predators often try to eat cattle or other livestock. The farmer, naturally, traps, poisons, or shoots the cheetah. With all of the human expansion, cheetahs find it harder and harder to hunt elsewhere.

The Cheetah Conservation Outreach in Capetown is working toward a solution. A special breed of dogs from Turkey called “Anatolian Sheppard” has been bred for thousands of years to fight of wolves and even bears while herding livestock. Cheetah Outreach has taken some of these dogs and is breeding pups to give to farmers. The pups are trained well and they protect with loyalty and bravery. Many of these dogs have scared away cheetahs, hyenas and other smaller predators. However, if an animal disregards the warning barks, the dog has no choice but to fight.

 With powerful muscles, sharp teeth, the mass of a person, and sometimes a spiked collar to prevent neck holds, these courageous dogs leap into the fray. Some have been known to prevail over leopards.

These dogs are a revelation to the farmers. One farmer said on video, that while he had had his dog, not a single sheep had been lost… he even said,” It’s amazing!”

When a farmer accepts a dog he has to make a promise. He may not kill or harm any predators on his land, and he may not set out any poisons or traps. Also, he may not abuse the dog.

So far only two dogs have been taken back. One was abused by his owner, who wanted him to become a hunting dog. The other dog’s farmer’s wife tried to turn her in to a house pet, instead of using her for protection, and the farmer continued to kill predators.

Over 100 dogs have been given out to farmers. Hopefully these brave canines can stand their ground against the African Wilds, and not only allow the farmer to gain more profit, but allow the cheetah population to return to its proper level.


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4 Responses to “Anatolian Shepherds”

  1. From Sandy:

    Wow, you got to pet a cheetah! That’s amazing! What a great day this must have been. I think this must be pretty high up on your list of awfully cool stuff you’ve done on this trip – at least it would be for me. Nice kitty 🙂

    Posted on 06. Jun, 2011 at 6:32 am #
    • From Carter Wilcox:

      This was definitely a cool day!

      Posted on 08. Jun, 2011 at 12:50 pm #
  2. From Charlie:

    Wow those dogs are, in the farmer’s words, amazing. Taking on a leopard alone must be terrifying. I really can’t see how any farmer’s wife would want or try to transform one of the dogs into a house pet.

    Posted on 07. Jun, 2011 at 8:33 pm #