Jeremy received this month’s update from Cole Du Plessis of the EWT – it continues the saga of the wild dog population in KZN:

From left: Richard Steyn (Bateleur pilot) and Raymond Steyn (Bateleur pilot), Dr Rowan Leeming (EKZN wildlife vet) and Cole du Plessis (EWT)

“November has been a fruitful month in maintaining and expanding South Africa’s wild dog metapopulation. The greatest highlight of all was joining forces with The Bateleurs to relocate four female wild dogs from Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary (Western Cape) to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game  Reserve.  Rowan  Leeming  (EKZN  Wildlife  Vet)  and  I  met  with  the  Richard  Steyn (Bateleur pilot) and Raymond Steyn (Bateleur pilot) at Virginia Airport (Durban) on the morning of the 18th  before flying down to Plettenburg Bay. The team then stayed the night at Plettenburg Bay and were picked up by the Jukani team at first light the following morning. On arrival, Rowan commenced with the darting the wild dogs before beginning the journey home to the Hluhluwe boma. These females were held at Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary for over two years are now are on the brink of returning to the wild.

Canine passengers on the flight back to KZN

Several days after importing the four females into KZN, Dr. Rowan Leeming and I went to Somkhanda Game Reserve to capture three sub-adult male wild dogs that were showing early signs of dispersal. Over two days, with the help of Wildlife ACT staff, Wildlands and Somkhanda Game Reserve management, all three males were successfully captured and relocated to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve. On arrival, these males were bonded with the females from Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary. The newly formed pack will be a positive injection to the wild dog genetics of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve.

Cole du Plessis doing final check on tracking collars

Amidst the wild dog pack introduction into Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, we headed to Ladysmith to capture the three females wild dogs being held at the uMphafa boma (originally from  the Tshokolwane  pack  in  HIP)  so  that  we  could  relocate them  to Somkhanda Game Reserve. The Somkhanda pack recently lost their alpha female and needed more females introduced to avoid inbreeding. Once releasing the three females into the Somkhanda boma, it took less than 24 hours for the resident pack to locate the females and they haven’t left the boma since. In time, the resident pack will likely bond with the three females through the boma fence and at that point be released from the boma.

Wild dog loaded into a crate for a sleepy journey to Somkhanda

November  has  also  been  the  month  of  contraception  in  the  wild dog metapopulation. Research has shown that November is the most effective time to contracept wild dogs. We teamed up with the Wildlife ACT monitors to locate the various packs to contracept and have also used this as an opportunity to draw genetic samples and fit new collars onto relevant packs. While contraception is the most effective and ethical tool we have in managing the wild dog population, we do hope to rely on the tool less frequently with more safe space becoming available to wild dogs in Southern Africa.

With  Christmas  around  the  corner,  we  look  to  be  wrapping  up  a  great  year  in  wild dog conservation.  Hopefully  next  year  we  will  begin  expanding  more  and  more  into  Southern Africa.

As always, thank you for your support and will be in touch soon.”