Watch: Dogs save big cats by protecting livestock in Argentina

Well-trained dogs are helping reduce human-wildlife conflict in Argentina by warding off predators like cougars (Puma concolor). The dogs are trained to safeguard sheep and domestic goats herded in the Patagonia steppe from a host of predators including cougars, Geoffroy’s cat (Leopardus geoffroyi), pampas cat (Leopardus pajeros), the threatened Andean cat (Leopardus jacobita), Patagonian foxes (Lycalopex griseus and Lycalopex culpaeus) and Andean condors (Vultur gryphus). The Wildlife Conservation Society is working on a project that helps to bond puppies with the livestock. This protection method works as an alternative to shepherds using lethal control to keep these predators away from their domestic animals — a method that doesn’t always work that well in the long-run. Reduced mortality in the livestock herds also means shepherds keep less animals, which leads to reduced overgrazing the landscape and improved ecosystem restoration.  “WCS Argentina has been working for many years in the development and application of non-lethal tools to prevent attacks and to promote coexistence [with] carnivores,” said Martín Funes of WCS Argentina. “[The dogs are] a very powerful tool, which helps both to conserve our wild carnivores and to improve the producer’s quality of life.”

Header Image: Dogs and cattle in the Argentine Andes. Credit: Federico Gregorio