Winding through the parched Namibian farmland, Bonzo, an Anatolian shepherd dog, has a singular focus: protecting his herd of goats from lurking predators.
He pads along, sniffing the air and marking the scrubby landscape, just like a bodyguard ready to ward off any threat to his charges, which he considers family.
“They’re not pets. They’re not allowed to be pets,” said Bonzo’s owner farmer Retha Joubert.
The breed descends from ancient livestock dogs used thousands of years ago in what is now central Turkey. And they not only save sheep and goats, but have handed a lifeline to Namibia’s decimated cheetah numbers by reducing conflicts between farmers and predators.
“The dogs are protecting the flock in such a way that the farmers don’t have to kill predators,” said Laurie Marker of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) which breeds the dogs near the northern city Otjiwarongo.
“It’s a non-lethal predator control…
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