The Endangered Wildlife Trust and Land Rover South Africa set out to fit radio collars to a pack of African Wild Dogs in Kruger National Park in May. Though the pack proved elusive initially, two members have now been successfully collared providing valuable research for The Endangered Wildlife Trust’s vital field study.
African Wild Dogs are South Africa’s most threatened carnivore with less than 450 of the so-called ‘painted dogs’ remaining in the wild in South Africa. Due to their naturally occurring low-density populations and massive home ranges Wild Dogs are sensitive to fluctuations in their environment and human conflicts.
“Due to their large dispersal distances, Wild Dogs are notoriously difficult to track and monitor,” explains Grant Beverley, The Endangered Wildlife Trust Field Worker. “Information on the makeup of the existing population is essential for us to improve management strategies of the species.”
Beverly set out to locate, dart and collar two members of an uncollared pack near Skukuza early in May. The pack proved elusive with not a single Wild Dog sighting being reported in the Kruger Park on the first day of the search. Patience eventually paid off with two female members of the pack eventually being found and collared a few days later.
Two Wild Dogs per pack are collared in order to monitor the movement of the entire pack. One is fitted with a GPS collar that logs several points per day while the other is fitted with a normal VHF collar that is used by Field Workers to locate the pack.
“We were extremely privileged to have been a part of this initiative,” commented Lesley Sutton, Media Affairs Manager at Jaguar Land Rover South Africa. “We have supported The Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Wild Dog conservation efforts for many years and were pleased to witness firsthand the fantastic progress they are making.”
The only viable population of Wild Dogs in South Africa can be found in the Kruger National Park while the Wild Dog Advisory Group, was formed with the aim of establishing a second viable population of African Wild Dogs through the establishment of several small populations that will be managed as a metapopulation. This goal is close to being realized with the Kwa-Zulu Natal reserves housing more than 100 African Wild Dogs.
Land Rover South Africa has made two Land Rover Defenders available to the The Endangered Wildlife Trust in order for them to carry out their valuable work no matter how rough the terrain may prove. The vehicles are stationed at the Kruger National Park and the Hluhluwi Mfolozi National Park in KZN.