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NAWDP Update 2015

african wild dogs african wild dog pup Namibia

NAMIBIA AFRICAN WILD DOG PROJECT

In collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism
Technical Report

 

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Annual Report 2015
Prepared by Stuart Munro and Dr. Rudie van Vuuren

Summary
2015 saw the Namibia African Wild Dog Project (NAWDP) experience both positives and negatives with respect to the monitoring of the wild dog populations on the Kavango Cattle Ranch (KCR) and the Mangetti National Park (MNP) in northern Namibia.

Visits to the sites for the monitoring of motion-sensitive trail cameras were limited to 5 separate occasions due to time and personnel constraints. An aerial game census was carried out in August, the results of which recorded diminished game numbers from preceding counts.

There were no recorded wild dog mortalities or disturbance of dens on the KCR during 2015 however several dogs denning in the MNP were shot on adjacent livestock farmland.

 

Observations & Records
Trail Camera Monitoring Cameras were visited to replenish batteries and memory cards on 5 occasions during 2015. Those cameras which were sited at previously active den sites recorded zero wild dog activity – it is suspected that disturbance at the dens, especially the mortality recorded in August 2014 where a spring-loaded foot-trap was placed at one of the active den entrances, may be the cause. One adult female dog was caught in the trap and subsequently died. The details of the incident, including photographs captured of the individuals during the trap placement were handed over to the relevant management staff of the Namibia Development Corporation for disciplinary action and as evidence for any prosecution.

wild dog caught in a trap

 

Adult wild dog found dead at den-­site entrance after being caught in a spring-­loaded foot-­trap.

 

Three adult dogs were recorded on a camera positioned on the roadside adjacent to the aforementioned den where the foot-trap was placed.

 

namibian wild dogs near tehir denafrican wild dog monitoring 

3 adult wild dogs photographed on the KCR nearby to an abandoned den-­site.

 

No wild dog activity was photographed by any other camera situated on either the KCR or MNP.

As a result, cameras were removed from the now abandoned den-sites and repositioned at strategic points on the KCR, mainly at corner junctions of different farm blocks, where spoor (footprints) of wild dog were visible. These will hopefully allow us to narrow our search into areas where the dogs have moved and are currently active.

 

Aerial Game Census
This census took place in July 2015, and was conducted by Stuart Munroe and Dr. Rudie van Vuuren. A full report was submitted to MET in September 2015. A total of 63 target wildlife detections were GPS-logged during this survey. All observations recorded occurred within the delineated study area.

Species No.of
Detections
Total No.
Counted
Min.
Group Size
Max.
Group Size
% of
Observations
% of
Animals Counted
Common duiker
(Sylvicapra grimmia)
20 21 1 2 31.7 17.5
Eland
(Taurotragus oryx)
1 7 7 7 1.6 5.8
African elephant
(Loxodonta 3fricana)
1 16 16 16 1.6 13.3
Greater kudu
(Tragelaphus strepsiceros) 
12 27 1 7 19 22.5
Porcupine
(Hystrix cristata)
1 1 1 1 1.6 0.8
Secretary bird
(Sagittarius serpentarius)
1 1 1 1 1.6 0.8
Steenbok
(Raphicerus campestris)
12 15 1 3 19 12.5
White-backed vulture
(Gyps africanus)
1 1 1 1 1.6 0.8
Warthog
(Phacochoerus africanus)
14 31 1 6 22 25.8

Common duiker, warthog, steenbok and Greater kudu contributed the majority of all observations. A single observation of eland was made. Neither giraffe or African wild dog were recorded.

One observation of African elephant (Loxodonta Africana) was recorded consisting of a herd of 16 individuals, two of which were juveniles.

This survey showed a marked reduction in both wildlife detections and consequently wildlife numbers observed and recorded compared with previous censuses. The low numbers of prey species places pressure on the wild dogs to find alternative food items which is likely to be livestock increasing the potential for conflict in the area.

 

Human-wild dog conflict
Data kindly received from Mr Hansman du Toit of the KCR management staff detailed the total numbers of livestock losses from April 2014 to April 2015.

Of the 859 recorded losses, 208 (24%) were suspected to be directly attributable to depredation from wild dogs. Leopard and other predators accounted for 51 (6%), other losses (disease) accounted for 193 (22%) and the remaining 407 (47%) were recorded as missing with no cause known.

Thankfully no direct persecution of African wild dog was reported or recorded during 2015 on the KCR.

However, despite not being photographed on any trail cameras, 2 packs of dogs were reported to be active in the national park to the east. In late September 2015 one pack, denning in the north-west of the park, was suspected of livestock depredation on surrounding livestock farmland; subsequently several dogs were shot in retaliation by local farmers. By mid-November the pack was reduced to a single adult male and 5 puppies. These animals subsequently left the park through the southern boundary where, despite attempts to track them on foot, all sign of them was lost.

 

Conclusions for the future
1) The most important conclusion to come out of the past year of monitoring is the absolute need for a more permanent researcher to be stationed in the Mangetti area to be able to more closely research and monitor the movements and activities of the resident populations of African wild dog. This will also allow for more rapid response to conflict situations and outreach work to begin examination and implementation of conflict mitigation measures on surrounding commercial farmland areas. To this end the N/a’an ku sê Foundation plans to have a more permanent research staff member in situ during the first quarter of 2016.

2) Many more motion-sensitive trail cameras are required for deployment on the KCR and surrounding commercial farmlands for increased coverage in the monitoring of the movements of the various resident wild dog packs. The N/a’an ku sê Foundation has begun intensive fundraising efforts to secure the purchase of an additional 20 cameras for this study.

3) The capture and fitting of GPS satellite tracking collars to resident pack members will allow intensive and detailed modelling of wild dog movements in the Mangetti area. It will also help in conflict mitigation procedures by allowing the advance warning of wild dog movements onto adjacent commercial livestock farmlands, allowing for better livestock protection measures to be implemented before severe depredation occurs. This will form part of the outreach to increase knowledge sharing amongst concerned landowners and help reduce persecution to this endangered species in the area. The N/a’an ku sê Foundation recently met with Piet Beytell from MET and 1 x AWT collar with another 4 Telonics collar (supplied by the N/a’an ku sê Foundation ) will be deployed. It is planned to use some of the captive dogs currently housed at N/a’an ku sê Foundation to lure the dogs in the area to be able to immobilize and collar them, this experiment will be documented as it will be a first for immobilizing wild dogs.

4) Continued aerial game censuses will enable the documentation of natural prey species population densities and distribution and determine whether these populations remain stable, increase or decrease. If these populations of prey species continue to decrease this will place extreme pressure on the wild dog populations, forcing them to either migrate out of the area or turn to livestock as a secure food source which will only increase conflict and thus persecution in the area.

 

Acknowledgements
The project must give thanks to the financial and technical assistance of the Namibia Development Corporation and Go Green Fund Namibia and to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism for their support of the Namibian African Wild Dog Project and all its partner organisations.

 

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