Endangered African wild dogs released in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park
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DURBAN - The Hluhluwe- iMfolozi Park (HiP) has released a newly formed pack of endangered African Wild Dogs into the reserve, with support from Wildlife ACT.
The African Wild Dog, which is also known as the African Painted Dog, is one of the most endangered animals in the world.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife spokesperson Musa Mntambo said the wild dogs were kept together, in a boma in iMfolozi, prior to their release into the park.
“The females had split off (dispersed) from another pack in HiP and the males had split off from their pack in Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, in the Northern Cape. The Endangered Wildlife Trust, which is one of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Wildlife ACT’s partners within the KZN Wild Dog Management Group, assisted in bringing the males down to HiP, where they were put in one compartment of the boma and the females were put in the other compartment.
“Once the monitoring team could see the groups were relaxed with each other, the gate between the compartments was opened and the animals were allowed to interact. Once the males and females had bonded to form a new pack, they were released from the boma into the park,” he said.
Mntambo said: “The idea of forming this pack and releasing it into HiP was to anchor the females that had dispersed from another pack within the park, by bringing new males in and bonding the two sex groups together to bring new genes into the park, and to bolster the low numbers of wild dogs currently in the park, so that the park can continue to contribute to the conservation of the species,” he said.
Mntambo said the wild dogs are faced with many challenges.
“Historically they were treated as vermin and shot on sight. There are still some people that regard them as vermin and illegally destroy them. In addition, they are a pack species, from which individuals disperse as they get older or when the pack gets too big, in order to find their own mates,” he said.
He added that snaring and road accidents also contributed to the reduction in wild dog numbers.
HiP plans to keep the wild dogs indefinitely and to manage them so that they can contribute towards the conservation of the wild dogs in South Africa.
Mntambo said this will include managing their genetic diversity and removing dispersing groups of wild dogs, from time to time, to form new packs in other reserves, both within South Africa and in other Southern African countries.
“There is plenty of potential for wild dogs in HiP to reproduce and to grow in numbers, but they will be managed through translocations to other reserves to ensure the number of individuals and packs do not exceed management determined levels, which are informed by research and constant monitoring,” said Mntambo.