The African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), classified as endangered by the IUCN Red Data List, is without a doubt the most endangered large mammal in Namibia with an estimated population of less than 500 individuals left in the wild.
When N/a’an ku sê was approached to rescue and rehabilitate a litter of 14 pups which had been dug out of their den, we realised that this species was in dire need of help and also that their plight fell precisely into our already running human-carnivore conflict mitigation project. We therefore, with the cooperation of the Namibian government and the landowners on whose properties the dogs are active, initiated the African wild dog project.
This project’s main aims are to establish more reliable figures on the free-ranging African wild dog population in Namibia; in particular it’s basic ecological parameters over an extended period of time, including distribution and range use, group composition, movements where possible, breeding and prey ecology.
The main study area is the Mangetti Cattle Ranch, a government para-statal farm conglomerate in the Kavango Region of northern Namibia. The ranch is approximately 168,900 ha in size and is comprised of over 40 individual farms primarily for livestock production.
Recent aerial game counts have confirmed an alarmingly low natural game population in the area, which increases the chances of wild dogs hunting livestock for survival. Other aims therefore include the documentation of perceived versus actual degree of human-wild dog conflict and the development (and implementation) of educational and mitigation (i.e. conflict prevention) programmes.
Currently the project is monitoring wild dog numbers & activity with the deployment of motion-sensitive trail cameras and interviews of local residents & land-owners. We hope in the near future to fit suitable GPS tracking collars to members of the known free-roaming wild dog packs in order to gather more detailed information on their movements and ranges.
The Namibia African Wild Dog Project (NAWDP) is jointly conducted and facilitated by the N/a’ an ku sê Research Programme, Namibia Nature Foundation and the Africat Foundation, and supported by the Namibia Development Corporation and the Go Green Fund.