Today, African wild dogs are resident in only 9.4% of their historical range, and the species is declining. Given that wild dogs are found at naturally low population densities and occupy large home ranges, transfrontier conservation initiatives are fundamental for their future conservation. The Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTCA) hosts globally significant populations of wild dogs. Habitat loss, wire snaring, disease, interspecific competition and human persecution threaten wild dogs throughout their range.
Taronga’s support of this project will enable African Wildlife Conservation Fund to purchase tracking equipment, educational support materials and provide a scout team so that they are able to continue their work with the African wild dog in Zimbabwe. The Wild Dog Protection project monitors the conservation status of African wild dogs in the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area for effective long term conservation management. Staff collect genetic samples and assess the genetic health, including genetic diversity and level of inbreeding, of the wild dog sub-population in the Zimbabwe Lowveld. Strengthening the current conservation education program in schools to mitigate human-wildlife conflict and to increase awareness of the importance of African wild dogs as part of the local ecosystem are paramount to a successful campaign for protecting wild dogs. Other aims of the project include reducing adult wild dog mortality from snaring through increased anti-poaching measures and reducing the threat from rabies through vaccination of domestic dogs in local communities.
A healthy population of African wild dogs is currently being monitored by the African Wildlife Conservation Fund in the Gonarezhou National Park and Savé Valley Conservancy study sites. With the Taronga Field Conservation grant in 2014/15, the program has been able to increase their capacity and scout present on the ground and reduce wild dog mortality as a result of snaring. The new scouts enables the team to respond to incidences of snared or injured wild dogs more quickly, and increase their impact on large carnivore conservation in neighbouring areas. In response to increased rates of rabies in domestic dogs and human fatalities due to rabies, a rabies vaccination program was also established. This resulted in 1042 domestic dogs being vaccinated and de-wormed to date.
The African Wildlife Conservation Fund promotes the long-term sustainability of healthy wildlife populations via research and educational partnerships with land owners and community members, natural resource managers, conservationists, and governments. The work is done with the support of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
What can you do?
Think then ask before you buy: Our consumption places pressure on resources all over the world – whether you are travelling or buying here in Australia, think, then ask before you buy – will what I am buying affect wildlife?