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The Namibia Wild Dog Research Project

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The proposed Namibia Wild Dog Research Project Proposal was submitted to the Ministry of Environment & Tourism (MET) end 2010 - for the necessary permission and is the first collaborative effort between the Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF), N/a’an ku se Foundation and AfriCat.

The selected study site (Kavango Cattle Ranch and Mangetti National Park) is situated in the Kavango Region along the boundary between commercial farmland and Kavango communal farmland, to the east of the Etosha National Park. The study area includes about 40 farms and covers approximately 200 000 hectares, where wild dog packs are regularly sighted and farmer-predator conflict threatens their long-term survival.

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Remote camera trap images will be used for spot-pattern identification to document re-visit rates and change in group structures, as well as activity patterns.
Reliable spoor records will be GPS recorded and mapped to aid distribution and range pattern assessments.
Direct observations will be recorded and documented photographically where possible to assist in population structure and ecology efforts.

Where feasible, captured wild dogs will be tagged with GPS satellite monitoring collars.
The consulted veterinarian will further be responsible for taking relevant blood samples for DNA identification and disease screening;
Field immobilisation will also be utilised to mark and release wild dogs.

Aerial survey conducted and ground work follow-up:

AfriCat's Project co-ordinator, joined the N/a'an ku sê team on the Kavango Cattle Ranch for the first aerial survey, essential ground work with the herdsmen and checking on the trail cameras in the Mangetti National Park.

Following our visit during February and NNF’S in early March, much information was gathered from the herdsmen posted at each watering point on each of the 45 plus farms, as well as paging through files full of general reports which may include vital clues to the Wild Dogs' historical and present whereabouts.

Warden Matthias of the Mangetti National Park was of great help and encouraged us to include an Education element into our programme. He insisted that we bring along posters and branded T-shirts/caps which will encourage all to volunteer information and to become involved.

 

With regards to the persecution of Wild Dogs along the boundaries of the Mangetti National Park:
Boundary farmers should be visited and the need to co-operate should be combined with some promise of support from the Namibia Wild Dog Project; the latter being the most demanding aspect as there is no easy way to protect livestock from a pack of hungry Wild Dogs.

The /Na’ankuse, NNF and AfriCat Teams have already gained some insight into the recent Wild Dog movements from the herdsmen on the cattle ranch, including a confirmed sighting of one Wild Dog, showing an increasing interest in our programme. Introducing the finer details of the Namibia Wild Dog Project to all the herdsmen and their families is imperative to the long-term success of this venture: not only do we need to establish numbers and the whereabouts of the resident Wild Dogs in this vast area, but also get 'buy-in' from the people on the ground . . . . if the farmers, both commercial and communal, are not convinced of the value of this programme and that it could provide workable mitigation options to the ever-present Human-Wildlife Conflict in these farming areas, our work may be worthless!

Dr. Conrad Braine, a well-known conservationist and once-Etosha National Park Veterinarian, kindly offered up his weekend to fly the /Na’ankuse light aircraft for an aerial survey of the approx. 200 000 hectare Kavango Cattle Ranch; with Rudi (/Na’ankuse) and Sydney (AfriCat) as 'spotters', two wild dogs were briefly sighted from the air before they disappeared into the dense Mangetti vegetation. A large number of elephant were also spotted from the air as well as a raging fire which moved into the Mangetti National Park from communal farmland.

The visit to the Mangetti National Park proved successful once again – Warden Mathias Kaveto’s support is always appreciated and his insight & experience into the HWC conflict along the Park boundaries is invaluable and will continue to guide us in the right direction.

Reports show a decrease in persecution, rather calling the Wardens to assist than taking the law into their own hands. This reiterates the importance of the Namibia Wild Dog Project: Human-Wildlife Conflict is rife and if we are to secure the long term survival of these rare and endangered species, we have to ACT NOW and not wait any longer.

During our last visit to the Mangetti NP, trail cameras were placed at each of the 8 waterholes – this time, visuals of 6 Wild Dogs were recorded; a confirmed sighting by one of the Mangetti NP Rangers was also reported as well as the bad news of two incidents of farmer-wild dog conflict along the northern Park border.

Follow this project for regular updates: The Namibia Wild Dog Research Project.

 

AfriCat’s contribution will be approx. N$275 000.00 for the first year (US$30 556,00 or £20 000,00)
If anyone would like to support the Namibia Wild Dog Project, we are in dire need of trail cameras, general vehicle maintenance, fuel etc – your support would be sincerely appreciated.

Please contact Tammy Hoth-Hanssen in Namibia if you can support this project.
The AfriCat Foundation / non-profit organisation / No: T48/93

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