Painted Dogs Released on Tembe Elephant Park

17 Dec 2019 |

In early August, a pack of four African Painted Dogs (Lycaon pictus) were released back into Tembe Elephant Park from the predator boma where they had been successfully bonded. It was a much-anticipated release for all involved, especially the Wildlife ACT Tembe Monitoring team, who had spent many days monitoring the pack in the lead-up to the release, ensuring their successful bonding and safety.

“To see them run out and disappear into the Sand Forest was a heart-warming moment for us”, said Nico Kritzinger and Michael Herbst, Wildlife ACT’s Tembe Priority Species Monitors.

As the gates of the boma were opened, the Painted Dog pack excitedly took off into their new home. Photo by Priority Species Monitor Michael Herbs.
As the gates of the boma were opened, the Painted Dog pack excitedly took off into their new home. Photo by Priority Species Monitor Michael Herbst.

The day after this Painted Dog release the Monitoring Team left camp before sunrise, eager to follow-up on their tracking collar signal and determine how they were settling in to their new habitat. Locating this pack for the first time was an amazing encounter. Wildlife ACT’s intensive monitoring of African Painted Dogs is done throughout the year and (with the information collected) assists the reserve management, together with the KwaZulu-Natal Wild Dog Advisory Group (KZNWAG), in conserving the population.

The new Tembe pack composition of two males and two females. (Photo by Priority Species Monitor Michael Herbst.
The new Tembe pack composes of two males and two females. Photo by Priority Species Monitor Michael Herbst.

The pack has been doing very well since the release – having spent the first few days exploring the boundaries of the 30 000 hectare reserve before honing in on a preferred range. The combination of GPS Satellite and VHF telemetry collars fitted to the individuals aids the Team’s monitoring efforts greatly. Even if a visual sighting is not possible, the collar can be located via a GPS location point or a manual triangulation using the VHF collar signal.

The Wildlife ACT Monitoring Team records rigorous location, condition and behavioural data, which is compiled and relayed to EKZNW Reserve Management. Photo by Conservation Volunteer Patrick Rüegg.
The Wildlife ACT Monitoring Team records rigorous location, condition and behavioural data, which is compiled and relayed to EKZNW Reserve Management. Photo by Conservation Volunteer Patrick Rüegg.

The Wildlife ACT Monitoring Team on Tembe Elephant Park is very excited to continue monitoring this pack and aid in the conservation efforts to protect this endangered species. This successful Painted Dog release would not have been possible if it was not for the partnership between Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Endangered Wildlife Trust, Wildlife ACT, Tembe Community Trust, Tembe Safaris, and iNkosi Tembe, and with assistance from the Center for Environmental Rights.

Tracking collars have been fitted to the pack, to aid in effective monitoring efforts and robust data capture. Photo by Priority Species Monitor Michael Herbst.
Tracking collars have been fitted to the pack to aid in effective monitoring efforts and robust data capture. Photo by Priority Species Monitor Michael Herbst.

Wildlife ACT offers award-winning, Fair Trade Tourism certified wildlife volunteering projects across 5 protected areas in Zululand. They are partnered with global conservation authorities and won Second Place for a World Responsible Tourism Award in the category “Best for Wildlife” as well as Second Place for an African Responsible Tourism Award in the category “Best for Habitat & Species Conservation”. You can apply to join our monitors in the field and help protect this endangered species.