A pack of nine domestic dogs were spotted recently on the S3 near the Kruger National Park (KNP) by Samuel Breisacher and his uncle Daniel Waldis. The dogs were chasing a jackal. Source: Lowvelder
Breisacher said these dogs might have crossed over into the KNP from the Cork community. They crossed the dry Sabie River into the park. The sighting was reported to rangers that Breisacher luckily bumped into on the S3.
“I could see the rangers were shocked and worried. They immediately radioed for help and left in a hurry,” he said. “‘I have never seen anything like this. The dogs were very focused and showed the same behaviour as wild dogs. It is not good at all that they were in the park because they might have diseases and pass that on to the other animals, especially the wild dogs,” said Breisacher.
Breisacher is a chocolatier from Stellenbosch and his main chocolate brand, Le Chocolatier, is sold in the retail outlets in the camps so he frequents the KNP often. He is a dedicated conservationist. One of his other chocolate brands, Big 5, is designed to further the cause of saving endangered rhinos. A portion of the profit goes towards Unite Against Poaching.
Dr Kelly Marnewick, manager of Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Carnivore Conservation Programme, is currently busy with Grant Beverley, field officer for the EWT’s Kruger Park Wild Dog Project. They are darting and inoculating wild dogs in the KNP against distemper and other diseases. She said there is a danger of passing diseases on if dogs like these come into contact with wild dogs during a fight.
Since May seven packs of wild dogs have been vaccinated. It is estimated by Marnewick that there are only 300 of them left in the KNP, and only 500 in South Africa.
“It is difficult to say if these dogs would be able to reach the wild dogs, but it is a real risk if they do get to a pack that has not been vaccinated,” said Marnewick.
As recently as 13 May 2016 a pack of wild dogs was found dead with distemper, a dog disease caused by a virus found in domestic canines. The virus had wiped out the pack within 48 hours of it being detected, indicating an incredibly vicious strain.
Canine distemper quickly attacks the nervous system and causes discharge from the eyes and nose, excessive diarrhoea, lung damage, vomiting and eventual death.
There was an outcry on Facebook when Breisacher mentioned his sighting. Regular Kruger visitors stated that the dogs belong to poachers, who use them in packs to hunt down animals in the areas around their communities for subsistence living and to sell to bush butcheries.
Mr Wiliam Mabasa, acting head of communications at SANParks, said the dogs will be put down if they are found in the park. “The danger remains that rabies could be passed on to other animals if these dogs are disease-ridden.”
A dog with rabies was recently put down in White River by the SPCA. White River is about an hour’s drive from the community that Breisacher thinks the dogs hailed from.
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