Reintroduced Tembe Wild Dog pack doing well

Following extensive preparations by the Endangered Wildlife Trust, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, WildlifeACT and their partners in the KwaZulu-Natal Wild Dog Management Group, the release of African Wild Dogs Lycaon pictus into Tembe Elephant Park (TEP) in January this year was an exciting new addition to South Africa’s network of Wild Dog metapopulation reserves. The metapopulation strategy manages packs in smaller fenced game reserves throughout the country as a larger collective population, to maintain genetic diversity and population persistence.

Although the Tembe pack quickly adapted to their new conditions, several of the adult males were killed by lions since their reintroduction. However, the good news is that the alpha female denned down towards the end of May. Although she chose a section of the reserve that is known for its high lion density, recent photographs taken by the camera traps set up by the WildlifeACT monitoring team show that at least six pups have survived. The pack, including the pups, currently stands at 15 animals.

The TEP reintroduction has the potential to expand into the recently proclaimed Tembe-Futi Transfrontier Park and is a significant step for THE CONSERVATION OF South Africa’s rarest carnivore.

 The project to expand and understand the current range of Wild Dogs through the diverse landscape of northern KwaZulu-Natal is carried out through a partnership between the EWT’s Carnivore Conservation Programme, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the KZN Wild Dog Management Group, Wildlife ACT and Rhodes University, supported by Wildlands Conservation Trust, Jaguar Land Rover South Africa and Land Rover South Africa.

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About whittingtonjones

I’m Brendan Whittington-Jones, a Capetonian and a ginger – what a pearler of a combination! I manage the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s KZN Wild Dog Project in northern Zululand. The initial aim of the project was to answer research questions around what influenced where wild dogs moved when they dispersed out of protected areas, and what the attitudes of rural communities surrounding these protect areas are towards wild dogs. Over the years, the project has evolved to play a stronger management role in wild dog conservation in the province. I coordinate the KZN Wild Dog Management Group, where we focus on range expansion for the species, collective management of the species in the province and mitigation of potential wild dog conflict with landowners. One of the bonuses of my job is the opportunities I have to explore new reintroduction locations like Tembe, or track after dogs through parts of the region I’ve never seen before – although I would prefer it if the dogs did this in shorter stints rather than month-long treks.
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