11 October 2007
Visitors to the Kruger Park have been urged to report any African wild dogs they come across to help the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) to improve the management of these animals.
Between now and the end of November, one of the only viable wild dog populations left in the country can be spotted in the southern parts of the Kruger National Park.
Researchers at the EWT are trying to determine how wild dogs are genetically related to each other so as to improve the management of their population.
“Visitors can support this research by reporting all wild dog sightings to the EWT’s Wild Dog Hotline number,” said EWT chief executive officer Yolan Friedmann. “Sightings can be phoned in or SMS-ed to 076 725 5242.
“This will enable researchers to locate dog packs and obtain the required number of genetic samples to complete the analysis.”
The wild dog is South Africa’s most endangered large carnivore. There are fewer than 500 free-ranging wild dogs in the country, most of whom live in the Kruger Park, with a handful found at smaller provincial and private reserves.
“Kruger National Park contains the only viable and self-sustaining wild dog population in South Africa,” Friedmann said. “They are therefore an important benchmark with which to compare other less viable and more intensively managed populations.”
The wild dogs at the Kruger Park are, however, notoriously difficult to locate.
If there is a sighting, as much detail as possible needs to be given on the location, time and size of the group to help the project researchers find the packs.
Patterns of relatedness among the southern Kruger wild dog population will be compared to those of smaller populations in reserves like the Pilanesberg National Park, Madikwe Game Reserve, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park and De Beers Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve.
The research project is being sponsored by Masslift and Colchester Zoo’s Action for The Wild.