Keen eyesight, sharp hearing and impressive speed and agility are all characteristics of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog. The breed is particularly well-suited to warding off predators and guarding livestock, and that’s exactly why Bushmans Kloof and the Cape Leopard Trust have introduced the intelligent canines to South Africa’s Western Cape. More and more livestock owners are joining the initiative and benefiting from the dogs’ remarkable successes. Here, we meet the dogs who’ve been chasing off big cats, caracals and jackals to protect their owners’ precious herds since the start of the project, and welcome an adorable new pack of puppies to the region.
Gabriel and Rocky
In August 2018, two pioneering Anatolian Shepherd Dogs, Gabriel and Rocky, trotted into the Clanwilliam area, which is Cape leopard territory. Rarely seen, yet a deadly predator to livestock, the Cape leopard preys on sheep and other herd animals reared in the province. In the past, this has led to the farmers intervening to protect their herds, often with harmful consequences for the leopards. But, thanks to the expertly trained Anatolian Shepherd Dogs, this is no longer the case.
Gabriel is doing a superb job in guarding the herd at the Jaap se Kop farm. His owner is very pleased with the shepherd dog’s daily guard routine. Meanwhile, Rocky has been successfully protecting his flock at the Vaalkrans farm. Prior to Rocky’s arrival, approximately 90 per cent of the farm’s lambs were lost to predators. But, in the season just gone, only one lamb was caught by a leopard and owner Murphy is working with Rocky to reduce the count to zero next year.
Ajay, Daisy, Lady, Max and Maya
Five undeniably cute Anatolian Shepherd puppies have recently been introduced to the Cederberg region, following the achievements of the other dogs and their handlers so far. Hand-in-hand with the Cape Leopard Trust, the partnership has demonstrated how a small change in livestock management can make a significant impact. Instead of shooting or poisoning local predators, the community is embracing sustainable, long-term solutions.
Maya, for instance, came to the farm of Willie Lubbe on 13th August 2019, which neighbours the patch protected by Rocky. Based on the edge of the Cederberg Mountains, father and son team, Willie and Brandon had to reduce their herds after a drought. The intention is for Maya to help them to replenish their beloved herd of sheep. By watching over the sheep and replacing the need for alternative means of predator control, Maya will make a considerable contribution to conservation in the area.
Similarly, Lady was placed on the farm of Jaap se Kop this August, to work alongside high-achiever Gabriel. Trainer and owner, Ewie Smith looks forward to helping Lady to settle in and emulate Gabriel’s important efforts. Elsewhere, the hugely successful placement of Gabriel has inspired others to participate in the project. Max has now been located on the nearby farm of Langberg se Punt, where Willie Nel and his capable farm manager, Nicro Vrey, are fully committed to raising the young shepherd dog in accordance with the programme’s advice.
An old hand at training livestock guardian dogs, Joubert van der Merwe is Ajay’s proud new owner, and the Biedouw farm the puppy’s home. Joubert’s experience makes him the man for giving Ajay the best possible start on his commercial Boer Goat farm in the Biedouw Valley. Here, many farmers have stopped keeping sheep and goats because of the active predators in the region. But Ajay will work to protect the goats, while ensuring no predators are harmed. Likewise, Daisy is going to aid Joubert’s neighbour, Hennie Spamer. With Hennie’s help, Daisy will become an attentive and loyal custodian of the farm’s sheep.
See the newest Anatolian Shepherd Dogs in action with a visit to a nearby farm when staying at Red Carnation Hotels’ Bushmans Kloof.