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Help the EWT with Wild Dog Sightings in Kruger

Date: 2007-10-11

The Endangered Wildlife Trust's Carnivore Conservation Group has once again joined forces with South African National Parks to conduct research to improve the plight of the endangered African Wild Dog.

The aim of the project is to try and determine patterns of relatedness among South Africa's only viable Wild Dog population. Between September and November 2007, visitors to Kruger National Park can support this research by reporting all Wild Dog sightings to the EWT's Wild Dog Hotline number. This will enable researchers to locate packs to obtain the required number of genetic samples to complete the analysis.

The African Wild Dog is South Africa's most endangered carnivore. There are fewer than 500 free-ranging Wild Dogs in the country, most of which occur in the Kruger National Park and a smattering of smaller provincial and private reserves. Several packs occur outside protected areas, but these are extremely vulnerable to human persecution and their status is subsequently tenuous.

The Endangered Wildlife Trust's Carnivore Conservation Group (EWT-CCG) in collaboration with the University of Pretoria is conducting a two-year research project to determine patterns of relatedness among Wild Dogs across the country. This information will greatly aid the conservation management of South Africa's Wild Dogs, particularly in smaller protected areas where inbreeding is a potentially significant threat to survival.

Kruger National Park contains the only viable and self-sustaining Wild Dog population in South Africa and therefore provides an important benchmark with which to compare other less viable and more intensively managed populations. Kruger Wild Dogs are however notoriously difficult to locate: they occur at lower densities than most other large carnivores, and tend to travel huge distances in short periods. For this reason, visitors to the park are being asked to assist researchers by alerting them immediately to any Wild Dog packs seen in the southern section of the park between September and November 2007. This will greatly improve the likelihood of obtaining the required number of genetic samples to complete the analysis.

Park visitors or staff members fortunate enough to see Wild Dogs south of Satara Camp during September, October and November 2007 can send sighting details by phone, SMS or even MMS to the dedicated Wild Dog Hotline number at 076-725-5242. Please add as much detail on the location, time and size of group seen as possible to assist project researchers to locate these elusive packs.

Patterns of relatedness among the southern Kruger Wild Dog population will be compared to those of smaller populations in a number of isolated reserves across the country, including Pilanesberg National Park, Madikwe Game Reserve, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park and the De Beers Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve. These reserves form part of South Africa’s national Wild Dog metapopulation, a collection of small isolated populations collectively managed by the Wild Dog Advisory Group and which currently contain nearly half of our country’s free-ranging Wild Dogs. Understanding relatedness among these populations will facilitate effective population management and is likely to improve the persistence of the species in the long-term.

Let’s join forces and save what’s naturally ours!

This project is generously sponsored by Masslift and Colchester Zoo’s Action for The Wild.