In an effort to help improve the conservation of endangered African Wild Dog, Kruger National Park has introduce a high tech a collaring method where one wild dog per pack is strapped with a collar that helps the park to monitor the movement of that particular pack, and get notified whenever the dogs venture into snares zones.
According to the Regional Co-ordinator for Endangered Wildlife in the low veld Grant Beverley, wild dogs are susceptible to be caught by snares since they tend to wonder into areas near the park’s boundary fence where there is high human density, and traps from local community members that poach animals for meat purpose.
“Unfortunately these traps end up catching the wild dogs instead of the intended meat animals,” explained Beverley saying in the past six years about 40 wild dogs were reported seen with snares on them, 29 of which were eventually rescued while the rest were either dead or never seen again.
“This is why the collar system is important because it notify us of the movement of the dogs so we could act quickly if we see them venture into areas known to be riddled with snares…just this month alone we had four notifications of wild dogs venturing into snares zone and had to act quickly to protect them,” he said.
Although the collaring system in itself is said to have started in 2009, the system was not that effective until recently after the park acquired high tech system at a cost of R65000 per collar which need to be replaced between 12 and 18 months. The park has so far managed to collar 21 wild dogs each representing a pack of about ten.
According to Beverley, out of the 30 packs of the wild dogs that is said to be currently in the park, nine of the packs still need to be collared. “Collaring one individual dog in each of the 30 packs means that we would be able to monitor the population of 300 wild dogs with ease,” explained Beverley saying it was very difficult to monitor animals in an area as big as Kruger National Park without GPS system (collar) attached on them.
“Despite the 2016 outbreak of canine distemper that decimated one of the packs in southern KNP, wild dog numbers in the park are on an upward trend. They have however not yet reached the same numbers as in 1995 (450) yet. They are still recovering from a severe decline that saw them reach the lowest point of 120 dogs in 2009.”
Meanwhile with regard to rhino poaching, the SANParks spokesperson Ike Phaahla said the park was encouraged by recent development where two people were sentenced to 12 years in prison for poaching. “We recently had three successful convictions that we’re proud of…in one case which started way back in 2016 and finalised on the 11th of May this year, the suspect was given sixteen years effective sentence,” explained Phaahla.
According to him, a second case involved three men, one of which was an employee at the park…all three were given 25year sentence nine of which were suspended sentences, and they therefore were going to serve sixteen years effectively. “Last Friday we also had two men sentenced to 12years behind the bars…we’re very happy about this, and we would like to applaud our rangers for job well-done as well as the prosecution team for ensuring that the offenders did not escape the arm of the law,” he said.