Breeding dogs to support local farmers
Location: Albertirsa – Hungary,
Story by: Ábrahám Szép
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.
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.
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.
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.