In 2009 photographic entries for the 3rd cheetah and 5th wild dog census within the Kruger National Park (KNP) were submitted to the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) by tourists, rangers and park staff. The Endangered Wildlife Trust conducted the first wild dog census in 1989; thereafter one was conducted every five years. Census data on cheetahs was first collected in 2000. Entries from the censuses were analysed and individual wild dogs and cheetahs identified using their unique spot and coat patterns. In the Talamati area, south east of Orpen camp, a female wild dog was identified as wild dog 90 (WD 90).
In March 2010 the Kruger Western boundary Project began in the southern section of the KNP. One of the key aims of our project is to investigate the threats to both cheetahs and wild dogs west of the KNP. A threat to all species is that of snares set by poachers for meat. The snares are randomly set along game paths by poachers and are non-selective in terms of the species caught. On the 25th of July 2010 a report came in about a wild dog with a red collar on just west of Orpen camp. At the time this seemed really strange because there had been no record of any dogs collared in the area. Unfortunately, after receiving the photo it was clear to us that it was not a collar, but rather a snare that had created a thick wound. Wild dog 90 was separated from her pack and alone. Contact was made with section ranger Richard Sowry in the KNP to inform him about the wild dog with the snare. He was however already aware of the snare and had initiated plans to dart and remove it when she returned back to the den site. Unfortunately, after a few days she had not returned to the den site and there was concern that she had died from the injuries sustained. Approximately two weeks after WD90 was last seen in the KNP a call came through about a wild dog with a bad snare in Umbabat Private Nature Reserve. To our astonishment it was WD90, alone but still alive. The dog was not seen on the property the next day and it was thought that, once again, we had not been able to remove the snare in time and WD90 had not made it.
On the 24th of August 2010 a wild dog with a collar was reported on Olifants River Game Reserve within Balule. It was thought that the individual was the collared female from Blue Canyon Conservancy. Wild dogs introduced on Balule in 2005 found their way to the Blue Canyon Conservancy where they have been for the last two years. Tim Parker of the conservancy recently reports that the dogs have since split and dispersed off the property. Photos were obtained from land owners within the reserve and to our astonishment it was WD90. What a legend! Moving large distances alone and still with the snare around her neck. Wild dog 90 was in relatively good condition and was seen at a water hole showing keen interest in a crocodile. Attempts were made to locate and dart her the next day, but legendary WD90 eluded us again.
Most recently (12 October) we have had reports of a dog with a snare sighted on Tanda Tula in the Timbavati; this may be WD90 however we are still awaiting photos to confirm.
Please keep your eyes open for the wild dog pictured below and contact us if you see her
or any other wild dogs and cheetahs operating beyond the borders of the KNP.