Kwa-Zulu Natal Wild Dog Project

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Brendan Whittington-Jones – Carnivore Conservation Group, Endangered Wildlife Trust

In recent months Mkhuze Game Reserve appears to have been more of a pit stop location than a residential address for two dispersing male Wild Dogs. Attempts have been made to immobilize and radio collar either of the two, but having been so elusive and sightings sporadic, none of these attempts have been productive.

Calls from neighbouring communities that Wild Dogs have been sighted outside the park are often followed days later by sightings within the park boundaries of the same two dogs. Apparently not desiring any extended social time with their aunt or sister, the remaining females in the park, the males are usually quick to vanish again.

Earlier in the month a report came through at dawn of two Wild Dogs attempting to enter a private game reserve bordering the N2 highway just north of Mkhuze town. The race to reach them before they disappeared again was on.

It wasn’t long however before additional reports came through, while en route, of one of the dogs having been killed by a truck as the pair flushed across the N2 again. With the invaluable skills of several of the private reserve’s staff, the remaining dog was tracked to a dense stand of sugar cane where it remained in hiding through the heat of the day. No bait or playing of Wild Dog calls on the cd player would budge it.

As the afternoon cooled, staff from the private reserve and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife again made efforts to lure the Wild Dog out and although it was tempted, it frustratingly ran off without moving close enough to be darted. By the following morning there was no trace and the landscape once again absorbed the dog.

About a week later a report came through of the dog being spotted south of Mkhuze GR among a cluster of private game reserves, trotting along district road 463 in the early evening before turning onto a management track and into the surrounding bush. At last sighting it is now on a private property east of the southern boundary of Mkhuze GR and while it’s progress is been noted attempts to collar the animal will continue.

To lift the spirits though, through some much appreciated good fortune the two dispersal groups which split from the Crocodile pack in Imfolozi Game Reserve have now both had individuals immobilized and fitted with radio collars to enable us to monitor their movements.

The project to expand and understand the current range of Wild Dogs through the diverse landscape of northern KwaZulu-Natal is carried out through a partnership between the Endangered Wildlife Trusts’ Carnivore Conservation Group and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife; supported by The Green Trust and Land Rover South