African wild dogs: Why monitoring them?

In wild dog conservation, monitoring has become an essential conservation measure: Through daily monitoring activities pack dynamics, movements, ecological influences etc. can be observed and analyzed. Learn more

Ann-Kathrin
Ann-Kathrin Kroeber
Nature
Freiwilligenarbeit in Afrika: Ein Wildhund sucht einen Schattenplatz unter einem Baum

African wild dogs are an extremely social species at risk of extinction if nothing is done to stop their decline." (Creel & Creel 2002; Woodroffe, McNutt & Mills 2004)

"The emerging field of fact-based protection promises a forecast of which management measures are likely to be most effective in achieving protection goals." (Pullin & Knight 2001, 2003; Sutherland et al. 2004)

Daily monitoring allows you to keep an eye on the wild dog as an endangered species. Only in this way things such as herd dynamics, movements, ecological influences such as eating behaviour, reproduction and cave habits, disease outbreaks, catch incidents and other problems with humans can be observed and analysed. This data is used to evaluate protection successes, because without this data no output data is available for comparison.

Information like these finally allow informed decision-making. If we understand the reasons for previous declines, management methods – wherever it is possible – can be adapted to help restore the number of wild dogs.

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If young wild dogs become sexually mature, some (usually siblings of the same sex) separate from the pack in order to find other, unrelated strays and to found a new pack. However, this fragmentation of habitats also means that they are no longer able to move safely between/to viable and protected areas. Conflicts with livestock and game farmers and other forms of human persecution threaten their survival. Part of the intense management approach includes regular relocations of potential strays to new reserves to mimic natural dispersal and maintain genetic integrity.

If the protected areas were enlarged and/or new protected areas established and/or larger buffer zones created around the protected areas to minimise human influence, management of this endangered species in such an intense way would no longer be necessary. As long as this is not the case, however, the current protective measures remain important and necessary.

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