Media Release: Wild Dog Hotline a Huge Success
Janet Edwards, a Masters’ student at the University of Pretoria, thanked tourists who visited the Kruger National Park late last year for their help in making her wild dog research project possible. She reported on her research into wild dog genetics at SANParks’ 6th Annual Science Network meeting, held in Skukuza this week (21 – 25 April 2008).
The wild dog hotline was advertised through flyers handed out at park gates and on wildlife sighting boards at rest camps, requesting tourists to alert Janet to wild dog sightings. During September to November 2007 she received over 300 calls and text messages. Janet responded to these calls, mostly very early in the morning, to confirm the sighting. She would then call in a team from Veterinary Wildlife Services to assist her with taking tissue samples from the dogs.
“There were a few well-meaning tourists who did not know the difference between a wild dog and a hyaena,” she admitted, “but most of the sightings were on target and made all the difference in making this research possible.” They collected tissue samples from 32 wild dogs in seven different packs. The study covered the southern part of Kruger up to five kilometres north of the Tshokwane picnic area.
Wild dogs are globally classified as endangered. With fewer than 500 left in the country, they are the most endangered carnivore in South Africa. South Africa’s only viable, self-sustaining population is in the Kruger National Park.
While Janet’s study was not intended as a census, she has found some encouraging signs that the number of wild dogs in southern Kruger has increased over the last two years. The samples will now be analysed to obtain baseline genetic data for Kruger’s wild dogs. This information will be invaluable in future population management of the wild dogs in Kruger and other reserves.
Raymond Travers, Media Relations Practitioner, Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: 013 735 4116, cell: 082 908 2677
William Mabasa, HOD: Public Relations and Communications, Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: 013 735 4363, cell: 082 807 3919
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