With the monitoring of Wild Dogs (also known as African Painted Dogs) forming the basis of Wildlife ACT’s wildlife monitoring work in Zululand, we’re often asked by our conservation volunteers about the necessities and purposes of monitoring the most endangered large carnivore in southern Africa:
- ‘Why do we need to monitor the Wild Dogs so intensively?’
- ‘Why do we need to see them every day?’
- ‘Why do we always need to know where they are?’
- ‘Do they all need to wear those collars?’
These are just a few of the questions that we are asked on a weekly basis and it is imperative that both our conservation volunteers and the public understand why we do what we do.
Here are 5 reasons WHY:
1. Studying the animals and recording behavioural, social and feeding patterns for research purposes.
2. Monitoring is an effective way of keeping track of these animals’ movements and demographics and learning about their ecology and population structures.
3. Monitoring these animals intensively allows us to predict future movements and possible dispersals of individuals from their packs.
4. Tracking collars allow us to detect if animals have left the confines of the park, allowing us to act immediately to bring them back, preventing conflict and interaction with humans and domesticated animals (eg. Domestic dogs, which could be carriers of Rabies, Parvo or Distemper virus).
5. By being in the field with them on a day-to-day basis we pick up on poaching incidences quickly, animals dispersing from the confines of the reserve, and injuries from fighting, snares and predation.
So, there is method to Wildlife ACT’s madness of racing around after African Wild Dogs in the heart of Zululand. The only question that remains now is: are you willing to join us as a conservation volunteer and help us fight against the odds for the survival of this amazing species?
Written by Kevin Emslie