I’m a cat person AND a dog person

11 01 2009

I thought I would start my posts with something on a positive note, before my cynicism betrays me.

Big cats got me interested in ecology and conservation in the first place, so I thought this news story rather fitting for my first post. And it mentions caracals! Yeah!

The article discusses the increase in cheetah populations in Namibia as farmers increasingly use dogs to protect livestock. Instead of shooting cheetahs looking for a meal in the farmer’s livestock, farmers can deter cheetahs with dogs: trade in the bang for the bark.

Who would have thought that large predator conservation could be achieved through the introduction of an animal preventing the predator from accessing food? Who would have thought that you could conserve a cat with a dog?

Perhaps the lesson here is that, in conservation, we have to look at the situations relatively. If you can trade in a lethal practice for a nonlethal one to reach the same end, go with the nonlethal one. When our baseline is people shooting cheetahs, getting to a situation where people don’t shoot cheetahs will be great news.

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One response

12 01 2009
lopez

Sweet. So, If we were to force an ecosystem-service framework onto the hapless caracal, how would we account for this? Is the choice of dog-over-shotgun a replacement-cost trade-off for a pest control service ? ; )

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