We have pledged to support the National Wild Dog Metapopulation Project as part of the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Carnivore Conservation Programme. This project aims to expand the range currently protected for African wild dogs, and works with local farmers and communities to help reduce human-animal conflict through provision of education and training.
African wild dogs need access to large home ranges, hosting a range of antelope species such as impala, greater kudu and gazelle. Due to increasing human populations encroaching into these areas and reducing the space available for prey animals, African wild dogs are forced instead to hunt domestic animals to stay alive. Aggravated farmers reliant on keeping livestock for their livelihoods resort to deterrent measures such as wire snares which the dogs cannot remove once trapped and cause certain death from starvation and associated wounds unless discovered and removed quickly.
In November 2011, two of our carnivore keepers visited the project in order to help provide information on the diets of carnivores in the Waterberg. By extracting hairs from carnivores scats collected by EWT researchers, they were able to identify prey species of other carnivores hunting in the area to determine the main culprits preying on livestock. The data from this analysis will be used to inform the decisions on non-lethal anti-predation strategies to be used at farms throughout the region.
Whilst visiting the project, the keepers learnt first-hand about the problems wild dogs face and met the people working to ensure their survival. They encountered people with many different attitudes to carnivores and realised just how important community involvement is to in-situ conservation.
Using funds previously raised during events at Knowsley Safari, anti-snare and radio-tracking collars have been fitted and anti-poaching patrols set up to halt the decline in numbers and to gain a better understanding of their movements. As recently as September 2013, three GPS collared wild dogs were tracked across the whole of the Waterberg, then crossing into neighboring Botswana – a sign that attitudes are changing towards wild dogs in South Africa and landowners are generally becoming more tolerant of this fantastic species.
Keep an eye on our Facebook page for further updates from this project and visit the EWT website to find out more about the fantastic work that the EWT are doing to protect wild dogs and a number of other vulnerable species.