18 Aug 2017
Over the last two months, Wildlife ACT Fund has been assisting with the relocation process of the African Wild Dog pack on Thanda Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Wildlife ACT’s endangered species monitor, Michelle Swemmer, has been monitoring this pack for the last four years along with our conservation volunteers. However, it’s been a game of hide-and-seek for the last year and a half as the pack has spent less than 40% of their time on Thanda’s property. The decision was made that the pack should being moved to a much bigger area in the Kalahari which is more suited for this specific pack, which currently spends more time outside of the protected area that is currently meant to be ‘home’ and which is ultimately too small for their needs. Their new home will allow them to roam safely without restrictions of fences, human pressure and farming zones.
The rest of the pack, 12 members, were caught over the last few weeks by Thanda with the assistance of the vet, Mike Toft. The last two remaining Wild Dogs, the alpha pair nicknamed Stitch and Skye, have been proving difficult as they have become very wary during the capture of the rest of the pack. Skye is the only Wild Dog that has a collar on and so was left for last. After weeks of battling to dart the pair, the team from the Wildlife ACT Fund came in to assist Mike Toft. Stitch was not interested in the bait and wasn’t relaxed enough to allow for a dart to be fired. We need a technique to get closer! Well done to Chris Kelly (Wildlife ACT Fund capture expert) in his ‘Ghillie suite’ (see photos of him hiding), which allows him to hide in a bush without the Wild Dogs being able to see him. We were therefore able to take the vehicles a good distance away, letting the dogs relax and come in close to the bait so that Chris could get a dart off.
It took a few days of this technique before we were able to dart them, but it was successful in the end. The pack will now be relocated to Tswalu Game Reserve (a private game reserve) in the Kalahari as soon as the permits have been processed.
A huge thank you to Woolworths ‘Every paw print counts’ campaign, My School/My Planet and The Relate Trust for their donations to the Wildlife ACT Fund, which makes our work possible. This relocation is made possible by the collaboration between Thanda, EWT and Wildlife ACT Fund.
To donate to our Wild Dog conservation initiatives, click here.