Name: Paige Seitz
Job Title: Livestock Guarding Dog Program Manager
Organization: Cheetah Conservation Fund, Namibia, Africa
Education/Degree: B.S. in Biology, specializing in Zoology
Namibia is made up of farmland and as the human population grows, climate changes occur, and habitats change, the world not only changes for the people in it, but also for the animals that make up the ecosystems. As resources become more limited for both people and animals, they tend to collide in ways that are not favorable; we call this human-wildlife conflict (HWC). CCF uses special breeds of guarding dogs called Anatolian Shepherds and Kangals to protect Namibian farmers’ small stock from predation. Using these dogs allow farmers, livestock, and predators to live peacefully on the same land.
My mornings normally start at 7:40 am and then can go anywhere from 5 pm or later depending on the day. My job consists of the husbandry (feeding, health, enrichment) for the 14 resident dogs on site, plus any litters of puppies on site. At CCF we live in a remote area about 45 minutes from the nearest town. There are many benefits – it is beautiful as there is wildlife all around; we are like a small family as we all work and live on-site; and we see things most other people in their lives will never get to experience.
My advice: try lots of things if you aren’t sure what you’re interested in doing career-wise, because you never know where you might just happen to fit in. I actually went to CCF wanting to become a field researcher on big cats, but after a period of time, I realized I wasn’t made for the field and enjoyed animal care.
Work hard! Nothing in life worth getting is easy. We always explain to farmers that there is no quick fix in life – to make anything work, it takes effort. And as cheesy as it sounds, never give up on your dreams – if I hadn’t followed my dreams, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Submitted by Amelia Valente, Ocean County 4-H Program Associate, Rutgers Cooperative Extension