Conservationists work with shepherds to reduce dog attacks

Barbary macaques in Morocco helped by veterinary project for local dogs.

Barbary macaques. © Getty

One innovative project has used dog collars to help change the minds of locals when it comes to protecting Barbary macaques.

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Found in North Africa, Barbary macaques are threatened by habitat loss and the illegal pet trade. But they are also killed by villagers’ dogs around Bouhachem forest in north Morocco.

Local shepherds believed it was feral dogs causing the problem.

“We had to find a non-confrontational way to communicate the right information,” says conservationist Siân Waters, who works for the NGO Barbary Macaque Awareness and Conservation (BMAC).

Young barbary macaque sitting in a tree. © Christian Nasca/Getty
Young barbary macaque sitting in a tree. © Christian Nasca/Getty

To address the issue, BMAC started offering free rabies vaccinations to the dogs of local people. The canines that attended veterinary health events received colourful collars once they had been given treatment.

Afterwards, shepherds began to notice dogs with the same vibrant collars hunting wild animals in the forest. This changed the minds of many locals and they now take responsibility for their dogs, to ensure they don’t roam in this area.

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According to a shepherd, the vaccination programme has helped to reduce the spread of rabies amongst other animals.