Vital KNP vaccination project for wild dogs well on its way

Photographs: Elaine Kruer
Photographs: Elaine Kruer

SKUKUZA – The wild dog is the most endangered carnivore in South Africa.

The loss of a single dog is one too many for wild dog researcher Grant Beverley of Hoedspruit and that is why he has worked tirelessly, especially with a new wild dog project since May 2016, for the welfare of this beloved species. He is the Lowveld Regional coordinator for the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Carnivore Conservation Programme (CCP).

SANParks Veterinary Wildlife Services, the SANParks Honorary Rangers, the state veterinary services and the Endangered Wildlife Trust last year mobilised their teams to prevent any further occurrences of canine distemper after a pack known as the Lower Sabie pack was killed by distemper.

This was the first recorded case killing wild dogs in the Kruger National Park. Because wild dogs are highly sociable animals, a whole pack can quickly be infected should one animal contract the disease.

Grant Beverley

Grant Beverley

To further prevent any outbreaks, teams set out to vaccinate core members of wild dog packs against the disease.

“Vaccinating wild dogs is challenging,” said Beverley who has been doing a disease survey and immunisation project under the wild dogs since then.

He darted and took blood samples from 45 dogs from 13 different packs south of the Elephants River. One of the dogs in each pack was also fitted with a satellite collar.

The vastness of the area has been a challenge to Beverley and his team. A single pack of wild dogs can cover 6 000 kilometres in a straight line Beverley said.

The Kruger wild dog population currently stands at approximately 250. The South African population runs to 450-500.

Other threats to the wild dog population include competition with other predators, being hit by cars, and snares – currently one of the largest human induced threats to wild dogs.

Visitors to Kruger can report sightings of any wild dogs, including details of time, date, location, number of individuals, photographs and any behaviour traits observed, to Grant Beverly at grantb@ewt.org.za.

*Read more about an Africa Wild Forum member, American Krugerholic and wild life photographer Elaine Kruer’s,  recent visit to the Kruger National Park (KNP) and her sighting of wild dogs in Tuesday’s Lowvelder.

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  AUTHOR
Elize Parker
Environmental Journalist Lowvelder

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