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Feature story

Breeding dogs to support local farmers

Overview

Ábrahám Szép is a kuvasz dog breeder, the volunteer founder and manager of the Kuvasz-őr! (Kuvasz-Guard) Large Carnivore Conservation Programme. Kuvasz is a large Hungarian dog especially bred for protecting herds. Ábrahám was born in Transylvania, and throughout his childhood he learned a lot on the rules of coexisting with large carnivores such as wolves and bears. After getting established in Hungary in 2009, he graduated at the Szent István University as a Wildlife Conservationist. In his opinion it has to be stated clearly that large carnivores are not to be toyed with, they can easily become dangerous for humans. He firmly believes that predators are essential and key species in the wilderness.


Story by

Ábrahám Szép

Contact

Occupation

Conservation/Nature Parks

Location

Albertirsa

Province

Pest, Hungary


Chapter 1

starting point

Three large carnivore species have returned lately to the mountains of Northern Hungary to regain area as their natural habitat: wolf, lynx, bear. Wolves are the most frequent there, they have already settled in the region.

Diversity of species, including large carnivores, is the beauty of Earth. We have to learn to coexist with them

says Ábrahám Szép. Livestock breeders have to prepare to keep away wolves from their pastured animals and safeguard them from potential attacks. Besides electric fences and human presence, livestock guarding dogs are an effective solution. Traditional Hungarian guarding dog species, Kuvasz is an excellent partner of farmers to keep away large carnivores from the pastured livestock and is a key player of problem free coexistence.

Chapter 2

approach

Ábrahám tries to enable a relatively conflict-free coexistence between humans and large carnivores in the rural regions of Northern Hungary by providing farmers with Kuvasz dogs. As a trained wildlife conservationist, dog breeder and hunter he easily finds his way to assist the work of various stakeholder groups. He also uses his experience as a game warden and with livestock keeping to reach the local farmers and offering them a practical solution. His programme is present in the whole northern area and he is not alone. Several other kennels in Hungary are willing to share Kuvasz puppies free of charge for a greater good. Ábrahám nowadays carries out his pioneering work in cooperation with the Bükk National Park Directorate and the Hungarian Kuvasz Breed Care Association. 

Livestock Guarding Dogs

Livestock guarding dogs defend the herd against attacks by wolves. They feel like part of the herd and obey the herd owner.  The dogs live permanently outside and defend "their" herd against all intruders from the outside. Well-trained livestock protection dogs are no danger to walkers and hikers, but these should lead their dogs on a leash. To make this work, well trained herd protection dogs are required, which are adapted to the type of grazing livestock. This requires regular checks made by experienced people so that the dogs do not start to behave incorrectly.

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Report your experience with this tool

Beatrice Jouenne

24.08.2018

The project "Pôle Grands Prédateurs" aims to support sheep breeders whose herds are victims of lynx attacks. An important step of the project is to learn breeders the educational protocol of dogs. During this project, we developed a protection tool: the multi-herd guarding dog. We educated a dog in order to place him in one season after another with different farmers whose herds were attacked. This dog was immediately effective and stopped lynx damage. After this test, the Pôle Grands Prédateurs proposed to breeders to take one or two puppies to replace him. In this context, breeders had the experience of a livestock guarding dog, knew the benefits, and could better apprehend the arrival of a new dog on their farms. Since 2015, the Pôle Grands Prédateurs is no longer a breeding pole for livestock guarding dogs. The association continues its action of support to the sheep breeders by being a platform of discussions and putting in relation breeders who look for dogs and breeders who have puppies to place. We also take in charge directly pups placement. Besides, we organized a lot of communication actions around the theme of “livestock guarding dog as a tool of prevention against lynx predation”. Please reply to this post for more information, reach out directly to Jean-Marc Landry or go to our website: www.polegrandspredateurs.org

Beatrice Jouenne

24.08.2018

Studies of the wolf – livestock guarding dog interactions are a source of consistent data that brings new perspectives on the relationships and interactions that occur in herds, their immediate vicinity and their extended periphery. The Canovis project is a possible response to major challenges that aim to significantly improve the coexistence between extensive livestock (sheep, goats, cattle) and wolves. Thanks to scientific research, the project designs and develops concrete and adapted solutions. The discoveries we made during the first 5 years of the project are major. Our results are in the process of completely revolutionizing the knowledge of the eco-ethology of the wolf in pastoral system. Unfortunately, our financial resources are limited and this is our major difficulty to continue the project. Please reply to this post for more information or reach out directly to Gilles Moyones.

Beatrice Jouenne

25.08.2018

Farmers and predators is a format that AlmoNature is trying to spread in both Italy and Europe. This was a non-binding measure implemented by AlmoNature in the frame of Farmers and predators in a province in the mainly Liguria Region. It specifically involved Farmers. It operated for 1 years (from 2016 to 2017) and received partial financial support from Private donors.Please reply to this post for more information or reach out directly to Haluska István, Patkó László.

Chapter 3

outlook

Kuvasz is an ideal lifestock guarding dog, it is very good to prevent potential conflicts. A wolf strength equals the strength of three Kuvasz dogs, so these Hungarian dogs are effective if they protect the livestock as a group. Farmers who already work with Kuvasz have had very positive experience as they can report decreased number of conflicts.

Kuvasz-Őr
Kuvasz-or – Hungarian Livestock Guardian Dog Project

https://kuvaszor.hu/

Hungarian Sheep and Goat Breeders Association
Hungarian Kuvasz Breed Care Association

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