20 Mar 2017
I thought I would post this in memory of a pack of Wild Dogs known as Crossroads Pack that used to roam Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park.
Crossroads Pack was special to many people. Very sadly, on 5 August 2016, the last dog from a pack of 12 had died from a disease known as Canine Distemper Virus.
Immediately after the loss of Crossroads Pack, the Wildlife ACT team came up to the north of the park in order to monitor a pack of Wild Dogs known as Dela’s pack – shortly after they had taken over part of the area the Crossroads Pack had left vacant in the Hluhluwe section of HiP.
It made our hearts sore to remember the loss and to feel the vacant space Crossroads Pack had left behind. But the cycle must go on and conservation efforts to prevent or eradicate Canine Distemper Virus (along with other diseases) are of utmost importance.
Crossroads Pack Stalk a Zebra
Canine Distemper commonly affects domestic dogs, however it can also spill over to wildlife such as African Wild Dogs, Hyenas, Lions and Jackals. It is highly contagious and a serious viral disease with no known cure. Shortly after Crossroads Pack had died, monitoring priorities shifted to get visual observations of all the other Wild Dog packs within the park.
Dela’s Pack was vaccinated in order to reduce the risk of them contracting the disease and as a stop-gap to ensure that at least some dogs remained in the park if an epidemic broke out.
Canine Distemper can have devastating effects on populations if it is not contained. Examples of other areas that have suffered losses from this disease include Tanzania, Kruger National Park, Khamab Kalahari Reserve, Tswalu Kalahari Reserve and Blue Canyon Reserve.
African Wild Dogs are endangered with only 3000-5000 individuals left in Africa. They are considered to be extinct in 23 countries that make up their historical range in Africa.
It is heart-breaking to see a pack of Wild Dogs that have thrived for so many years being wiped out in a matter of four days. Events such as this remind us how easy it can be to lose an entire species within the blink of an eye. We need to keep reminding ourselves that without hands-on conservation and ongoing monitoring and research, these incredible creatures will disappear forever. Please consider helping to save this species from such a fate.
Text & Video by Wildlife ACT Monitor Kelsey Hattingh