12 November 2007
A pack of 18 African wild dogs have been moved from Limpopo province’s Marakele National Park to the Northern Tuli Game Reserve in Botswana, in an effort to establish a viable population of the endangered animal in the Limpopo Valley.
“It is intended that this reintroduction will facilitate the establishment of a viable population of wild dogs in the Limpopo Valley, specifically within the area earmarked for incorporation into the Limpopo-Shashe Transfrontier Conservation Area,” Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Carnivore Conservation Group manager Harriet Davies-Mostert said.
The recently proclaimed Limpopo-Shashe Transfrontier Conservation Area straddles the international borders of Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The African wild dog is southern Africa’s most endangered carnivore, with fewer than 500 individual dogs occurring in South Africa, most of which are found within the Kruger National Park.
In 1997 it was recommended that packs be reintroduced into several protected areas across the country to expand the dogs’ range.
To date, nine wild dog sub-populations have been established in areas such as the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, Madikwe Game Reserve, Pilanesberg National Park and the De Beers Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve.
Wild dogs were first reintroduced into Marakele National Park in May 2003 when a pack of 16 wild dogs were released into the park.
This population remained vulnerable, however, because it was difficult to maintain fences on inaccessible terrain, resulting in some dogs escaping. It was therefore decided to relocate them to the Northern Tuli Game Reserve.
They will be fitted with tracking collars before being released and will spend the next two to three months in a boma before being released into the 72 000-hectare reserve.
It is hoped that the pack will link up with a neighbouring population of wild dogs, on the De Beers Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve a few kilometres south, of the South African side of the border, to form new packs.