The African wild dog is the most endangered carnivore in Southern Africa. Kruger National Park in South Africa is one of the last remaining areas where a substantial population of wild dogs can be found. This makes the Kruger population invaluable in the conservation of the species.
Strange as it may seem one of the biggest threats to dogs in Kruger National Park is exposure to humans and their pets! Because the dogs naturally roam over huge areas, they regularly enter areas where they are in potential contact with domestic animals.
Recently Kruger lost an entire pack of dogs due to canine distemper, a disease carried by domestic dogs. Because of their highly social nature this disease will spread quickly through the entire pack if one animal is infected.
The loss of one pack is a tragedy, but is nothing compared to the potential loss of the entire population of wild dogs in Kruger, numbering just over 200 individuals. The threat of this happening is very real if the dogs are not protected against diseases such as rabies and canine distemper.
To prevent such a nightmare scenario, Kruger National Park has started a project to study and to vaccinate the core of the Kruger wild dog population against potential killer diseases. This project is a collaboration between SANParks, the SANParks Honorary Rangers, EWT and the state veterinary services.
They are busy identifying and vaccinating dogs, and fitting key individuals in each pack with satellite collars. The collars will enable SANParks to monitor the dogs and to find these highly nomadic animals to top-up the vaccines.
The public can support this cause by donating and by reporting sightings of wild dogs. Visitors to Kruger should report sightings of any wild dogs to Grant Beverly of EWT.
You can assist the SANParks Honorary Rangers in this effort by donating to help fund the costs involved. Each satellite collar is costing ZAR30,000 to fit and monitor for a year and a half. The aim is to collar 12 dogs. The SANParks Honorary Rangers is the official volunteer organisation of SANParks. To donate to this cause visit the secure donation portal for this project.