October 12, 2009


Monday, 12 October 2009 11:27Wildlife ACT volunteers have been assisting the KZN Wild dog management group to try and locate and capture the newly dispersed wild dog pack. Here is the latest update from KZN Wild Dog Project:So with the memory of a brisk jaunt south to Thula Thula still in mind, the Veggie pack males have once again left Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park. The instability of the pack caused by the disappearance of the alpha female several months ago has manifested itself further with the eight males separating from the remaining females (their whereabouts are unknown) and heading 30 km west from HiP to Opathe Game Reserve.Having spent several days in the hills and valleys around Ulundi, they finally crossed the R34 highway and entered the Zulu royal heartland of the Emakhosini valley before moving south to Mtonjaneni. What could have been a public relations disaster, as the dogs were guilty of killing a cow, was saved by the proactive and enthusiastic approach of members of the Melmoth Conservancy. Despite the livestock loss, the energetic, good humored and selfless assistance to locate the dogs, and track them north, as they shot across the landscape into the mists which enveloped Babanango’s farms and plantations was unexpected and greatly welcomed. I was expecting a ‘klap’ and instead got offered coffee and an extra few sets of eyes and hands. It’s encouraging to know that despite the persecution that Wild Dogs face in much of their home ranges, there are still farming communities which can see beyond the occasional negative and believe that co-operation and a sensible conservation-orientated approach to landscape management can reap benefits.Finding ourselves at the mercy of thick mists, fallen trees and technological glitches we lost the dogs for three days before the report of seven (one is missing) feeding on a calf 20 km east of Vryheid. Again it was a mixed blessing of a rapid report and exceptional support from local Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Honorary officers, but the frustration of another stock loss case; a rarerity as only the second cow recorded killed by Wild Dogs since we started this KZN project three and a half years ago. Put into perspective by the farmer who has so far in 2009 already lost 31 animals to stock theft, we know we will need to continue to respond immediately and deal with the case at hand effectively to maintain any goodwill which we have received. A decision was taken to relocate the dogs to Mkhuze Game Reserve (where our Wildlife Act monitor and volunteers are based) until suitable females can be found to bond them with, however this is proving far trickier and frustrating than hoped. Darting attempts have only allowed us to catch one dog so far with the wind and the hyperactive nature’s of the dogs playing havoc with our solitary opportunity to date.