Sustainable Management of Livestock GuardDogs in Mara North Conservancy

Domestic dogs are an essential part of the Maasai culture and are used for guarding and protecting livestock from wild animal predators. The guard dogs thereby help reduce the human-wildlife conflicts, which are inevitable in areas where humans and wildlife coexists. However, in recent years the number of dogs in the Maasai Mara ecosystem has increased considerably and free-roaming domestic dogs are becoming a major problem for the area's wildlife. Thus, the dogs have been shown to have a negative impact on wildlife with regard to pathogen transmission, predation, disturbance, etc. In 2014 a field study was conducted in order to investigate the possible impact of dogs on wildlife in Mara North Concervancy (MNC). The study concluded that a guard dog management program for the neighboring communities is urgently needed in order to prevent the deleterious effect of dogs on the wildlife, and consequently on the future management plans and conservation of this unique area, as well as financial benefits for the local landowners.

Unfortunately, the problem has persisted since the study was conducted, and in early 2016, MNC requested the County Government of Narok and other stakeholders to urgently help with the management of the growing dog population. Immediately, consultations were done on various options and work was initiated in order to develop a management program in cooperation between the Universities of Copenhagen/Denmark, Nairobi/Kenya, Giessen/Germany as well as the Landowners' Committee of MNC. The program includes spaying/neutering of dogs to reduce on numbers, vaccination and deworming to control diseases, health check to improve on animal welfare and prevent transmission of diseases, sampling from dogs (e.g. feaces or blood) for research purposes, and implementation of educational programs for dog-owners. As veterinary students and faculty from the three universities will participate in the execution, the program will furthermore serve as a training platform that will provide students with skills and competencies relevant in wildlife conservation and management (including dog population control and dealing with wildlife-human-domestic animal conflicts).

Overall aim

To establish a sustainable population of healthy guard dogs in Mara North Conservancy in cooperation with local landowners and investigate the long-term effect on the area’s wildlife



  • Reduce wildlife disturbance and interference
  • Reduce risks of transmissible diseases from dogs to wildlife and humans
  • Reduce human injuries from dog bites
  • Reduce aggression between dogs
  • Improve welfare and working ability in dog population
  • Educate local maasai population on dog management
  • Provide veterinary students with skills and competencies relevant in wildlife conservation and management of free-ranging dogs and establish an international network
  • Provide data for research in dog management, wildlife conservation, education, etc

Participants, 2016

Mara North Concervancy: Lucy Freemantle, Administrator

Karen Blixen Camp: Jesper Stagegaard, Chairman

Karen Blixen Trust: Stephen DeVincent, DVM, MA, Karen Blixen Camp Trust, Chairperson-elect.

University of Copenhagen: Rikke Langebæk, DVM, PhD, Assistant professor

Justus-Leibig University, Giessen: Michael Liertz, Professor, DZooMed, DipECZM(WPH), DipECPVS and Axel Wehrend, DVM, Dipl. ECAR

University of Nairobi: Henry Mutembei, BVM, Msc, PhD, Professor of Theriogenology

International Livestock Research Institute: Annie Cook, DVM, Post.doc

County Government of Narok, Veterinary Department: Drs Njau and Sabuni; Administration: Area Chief

Community Representatives

Landowners Committee, Mara North: Chief Nabaala, Mararianta

Project Coordinator 

Rikke Langebæk, DVM, PhD, Assistant professor, Department of Veterinary Clinical and Animal Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen

Project status

This project