The African Wild Dog is Southern Africa’s most endangered large carnivore, with only about 438 left in all of South Africa.
In a bid to help the wild dogs, 10 adult dogs, notably one of the last free-roaming packs of the Waterberg, were successfully relocated to a holding facility on the Lapalala Reserve in April 2020.
The reserve kept them safe from pervasive threats such as hunting, poisons, road collisions, snaring and habitat loss, which have over the years reduced the population to near extinction.
The dogs adapted quickly in the boma at Lapalala. Within a few weeks, a litter of pups was born. The eleven pups are now strong enough to be released into the reserve, together with the 10 adults.
Derek van der Merwe from the Endangered Wildlife Trust said it was critically important to safeguard this pack within the Lapalala Wilderness Reserve.
“The first step is to raise funds to purchase VHS and satellite tracking collars, which has presented the unique opportunity for guests to not only donate but participate as sponsors of the project. The scientific monitoring of the pack will help to secure the future conservation of the species, particularly in the Waterberg. It is essential to keep track of their movement patterns, habitat utilisation, and population demographics, and to avoid snaring and poaching incidents and breakouts.
“This particular pack is used to going through fences as the Waterberg area is full of game fences. However, we are hoping that the time spent in the boma has given them some respect for fences,” he said.
Spreading over 48 500 hectares of pristine bushveld, the Lapalala Wilderness Reserve is one of South Africa’s largest private nature reserves. CEO Glenn Phillips said the Wild Dog conservation project is another important conservation milestone for Lapalala.
“We are under no illusions that these dogs will eventually leave the expanse of the reserve and continue to do what they have always done. Roam free. We are very privileged to have been in a position to provide a temporary home for these wonderful, critically endangered animals, and trust that the role we played has provided them with the best possible chance of survival,” said Phillips.
Tintswalo Lapalala will host a special Heritage Day safari on the weekend of September 24, 2020. Around 12 guests will join a veterinary team and scientists from the Endangered Wildlife Trust as they collar a number of African Wild Dogs in the Lapalala Wilderness Reserve.