07 Jan 2015 14:30pm
WINDHOEK, 07 JAN (NAMPA) The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) is advocating for the use of swing gates in efforts to halt the killings of predators such as cheetahs.
The swing gates will come in handy in Namibia and the rest of Southern Africa, where reports of game ranchers removing and killing higher numbers of cheetahs and other predators are high.
Swing gates are similar in concept to a residential pet door. They enable burrowing animals such as warthog and aardvark to enter farms through a hinged flap in the fence line.
At the same time, the swing gates it eliminates the burrowing species' need to dig passageways under the fence that can potentially allow valuable animals to escape and large carnivores such as cheetahs and leopards to enter.
According to a media statement issued by the CCF on Wednesday, its founder and Executive Director, Dr Laurie Marker said it is important to look at how the concept of swing gates can be optimised for maximum benefit with commercial game farm operations.
The study conducted earlier by the organisation concluded that the number of holes dug by burrowing animals under game fences decreases over time when swing gates are easily accessible and ideally placed.
Ironically, the studys authors also concluded that while burrowing animals have learnt to use these gates, large carnivores are fooled into thinking that the fence lines are completely intact, she stated.
To discourage digging and to reduce costs associated with fence repair, the study recommends extra swing gates be installed in high disturbance areas, such as where the fence line is positioned near water points.
While fencing off large tracts of land and excluding cheetahs from their natural habitat is not a viable long-term solution to the conflict, swing gates can help reduce game ranchers losses due to predation, she stressed.
This she stressed, would enable the country to work on a permanent solutions, such as the development of conservancies for species to peacefully coexist on the same land.
The swing gates which have been developed and tested by CCF are reliable and cost-effective, and uses a non lethal predator control technique for game farmers compared to electrified fencing.
The placement of the gates needs to take into account grass height, vegetation density, soil type and distance to watering holes, which helps determine successful applicability with game farms, Marker said.