Monitor Diaries
May 30, 2014

The lost tracking collar of the Sokhwezela pack

We had an unfortunate event take place here at iMfolozi Game Reserve, South Africa. The Alpha female (Neo) of the Sokhwezela wild dog pack has died,we suspect that this is due to the meeting of the Sokhwezela pack (16) with the Tshokolwane pack (18) in the wilderness area of our game reserve. The fight was most likely a territorial dispute between the two large packs.[caption id="attachment_7051" align="aligncenter" width="713"]

Wild dog Neo wearing tracking collar

Neo the Alpha female of the Sokhwezela wild dog pack.[/caption]We were able to discover her death with the help of the tracking collar that had been fitted on the wild dog. This tracking collar not only tells us her location in the reserve, but its signal variations allow for us to determine if the dog is resting, moving, or dead. The mortality signal is different from the other two signals as it is a series of very rapid beeps, and it will appear if the dog hasn’t moved in 8 or more hours.During a monitoring session, the Wildlife ACT wildlife volunteers detected her mortality signal. We found the direction of the signal to be in the wilderness area which is only accessible by foot, as there are no roadways that would allow for a vehicle to pass through.We reported the news of the mortality signal to Dave Druce of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Chris Kelly of Wildlife ACT, and immediate action was taken. Zama Zane of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and David Marneweck of Edangered Wildlife Trust set out on a brave and long walk into the wilderness in search of the tracking collar but had no luck finding the wild dog. The next day myself, Axel Primmer endangered species monitor at iMfolozi, and Guy Tommlsion of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife attempted a second try of entering the wilderness area to recover the tracking collar. After 8 long hours of walking in 40 degree Celsius heat, our efforts were cut short as we ran out of water. We returned back to camp with nothing to show for our efforts except for an accurate direction of the tracking collar. We gave the coordinates to Dave Druce and David Marneweck, who the next day, entered the wilderness area. The third attempt proved to be successful, as they were able to retrieve the tracking collar. Though the tracking collar had been retrieved, it had been slightly damaged by a spotted hyena.[caption id="attachment_7050" align="aligncenter" width="800"]

broken tracking cllar

The damaged tracking collar[/caption]Although the death of Neo was a loss for the Sokhwezela wild dog pack and everyone that knew her in the park, we are hopeful that the tracking collar will be able to be fitted onto one of Neo's puppies and will continue to help us in our monitoring of Sokhwezela pack.Post by Axel Primmer