Wild Dogs are a rare and integral asset to many African ecosystems, but in terms of overall continental numbers they are still only hanging on by a claw. Wild Dogs have disappeared from 25 of the 39 countries in which they were formerly recorded, and the remaining population on the continent is estimated somewhere between 3000 and 5500 animals. In South Africa the Kruger National Park (KNP) is considered our only genetically viable population which can exist without a bit of additional social manipulation from humans.
The count is still on in KNP but it could range up to as many as 450 individuals.
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi (HiP) game reserve has the second largest population of Wild Dogs in South Africa. The recent pup count (and there are still a few outstanding pups from denning mothers which haven’t been seen yet) has seen the reserves’ numbers boosted to 81. The reality is that some of the pups will most likely not make it beyond a few months due to threats posed by lions and Spotted Hyaena but considering there
were less than 30 Wild Dogs in HiP about 10 years ago, that bumper “crop” is particularly welcome news…unless perhaps if you’re on their menu.
The coming months in the park are being set up for some dramatic dynamics, a bit like a soap opera set being stormed by a few hordes of ripe, hormonal teenagers and the occasional stray foreign backpacker looking for someone who speaks his language. And that is excluding the six apparently moderately stable packs currently operating in HiP.
Mduna, a roving male yearling from Thanda Private Game Reserve south of Mkhuze was released into HiP two weeks ago.
He’s in luck, well we’d like to think so, since HiP also has a dispersing group of 4 females who’ve been in search for new mates for over four months. However those females have five brothers who are also roaming in HiP (or at least we assume this since they were confirmed to be seen over two months ago and the radio collar fitted onto “Bassai” stopped working) looking for some new “genes” to establish a pack with. Other options include a single female from the Pilansberg who is presumed to still be alive but single, or 2 females who recently separated from the Juma pack. But just to add some “hot stuff”, the Ume pack has recently been discovered to “missing” two adult males and a yearling male.
Let the games begin.
This project is an initiative of the Carnivore Conservation Group of the Endangered Wildlife Trust.
It is generously supported by Land Rover South Africa and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.