26 Jul 2017
A new pack of African Wild Dogs has recently been established at the uMkhuze section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in Northern KwaZulu-Natal. This was after acquiring 3 male Wild Dogs from Hluhluwe-iMfoloizi Park (HiP) and successfully bonding them with two uMkhuze females. After a few weeks of bonding, they were released from the boma to begin life as a new pack.
The Wildlife ACT team based on uMkhuze Game Reserve are now back to monitoring two packs of Wild Dogs. With a healthy population of lions and cheetah to also keep tabs on, the team has their hands full to say the least. It’s a big responsibility for our team, but one that all involved feel privileged to be tasked with.
AFRICAN WILD DOG CONSERVATION
African Wild Dogs historically occurred throughout South Africa, but due to direct persecution and habitat loss, their numbers dropped dramatically to just a few hundred individuals occurring mainly within the Kruger National Park.
In 1997 conservationists developed a 5-year metapopulation management plan to establish a second viable population of Wild Dogs by reintroducing packs into smaller fenced reserves with suitable habitat. A metapopulation is a group of populations separated by space but connected through the movement of individuals from one population to another by dispersers.
Many of these geographically-isolated populations occur in reserves in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, such as the uMkhuze section of iSimangaliso, and require intense monitoring efforts and management (for the translocation of individuals between populations to mimic their natural dispersal behaviour, for example) and ensure healthy gene flow.