Herding has begun!

Several years of training have culminated in the first EVER group livestock herd in Botswana~! The leadership of Eretsha Village have put their support behind our herding initiative and over 80% of the livestock from more than 20 herds will be brought together into a communal herd of over 1,000 animals for cooperative management. A Community Committee, made up of 10 villagers and our Pride in Our Prides staff, will make decisions about herding practices and devise a rotational grazing plan to maximize restorative ecological principles. This herd will be looked after by 6 herders that were hired from the Eretsha Community who have been trained and certified through the our herder training program.

Eretsha Herders front_ April 2019.JPG

Our herders will not only look after the livestock, but monitor rangeland health, treat livestock injuries and disease as well as mitigate conflict with predators. The herders will spend their days in the field, building a lion-proof livestock enclosure that can be moved throughout the grazing lands to keep the herd close to the best grazing areas.

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The herding program could not have come at a better time. With predicted poor rains this year, livestock will be desperately moving to closer contact with lions and conflict will be rife. Our herders will provide an added layer of protection that will be a tremendous example for neighboring communities.

Herd in kraal1.jpg

Cattle in Harm's Way: Learning Their Movements Can Save Their Lives

In our area, many cattle owners only see their cattle in the morning when they are released from their corrals and in the evenings when the cattle return. What happens in between is something of a mystery.  Depending on water and grazing cattle could move in any number of directions, but what we have often found is that cattle head south seeking the fresh waters and green grasses of the Okavango Delta.  These cattle mix with zebra and other plains game that are being stalked by the lions.

Mingling Zebra and Cattle

Mingling Zebra and Cattle

Last year, we put trackers of a few cattle to get a sense of their movement patterns. Our maps showed a straight march into the lion's den. 

Cattle movements (lines) into lion territories (polygons) where the conflict occurs.

Cattle movements (lines) into lion territories (polygons) where the conflict occurs.

This month, we have begun an extensive operation to fit 24 cattle with Satellite trackers. These trackers will enable us to monitor a substantial number the herds and prides to determine the critical distance under which conflict is likely. These analyses will greatly inform our early warning system.

Project Assistant Pro is stitching up our custom made pouch before deployment.

Project Assistant Pro is stitching up our custom made pouch before deployment.

A Happy Cattle Owner proudly displays our cattle tracker unit with our Project Assistant Chris (left)

A Happy Cattle Owner proudly displays our cattle tracker unit with our Project Assistant Chris (left)

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Further, we are working with communities to develop a training system for herders that will focus on traditional livestock husbandry, rangeland health, and predator avoidance. We plan to develop a government recognized certification process whereby our participants will have a valued skill to be proud of and the opportunity for increased marketability. We will support these herders through incentives when livestock are well looked after and predators are not killed.

Thank you communities for working with us and the INNO Fund (WWF Netherlands) and SPOTS foundation for your support!