Landmark occasion as Wild Dogs returned to Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, after decades of absence

August 10, 2018

Mozambique, Africa – With only around 6,600 Wild Dogs left in Africa, this iconic species is one of the Continent’s most at-risk carnivores, and is listed by the IUCN as ‘Endangered’. Urgent action is needed to save them. A key conservation strategy is to reintroduce Wild Dogs to viable ecosystems where they once ranged. The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), a champion of wildlife conservation in Africa, and Gorongosa National Park are excited to announce the completion of a historic translocation of Wild Dogs from South Africa to Mozambique.

 

Photo courtesy of the Endangered Wildlife Trust

 

On April 16, 2018, in a bold and innovative move to reverse the fate of Wild Dogs in southern Africa, this new and exciting partnership between the EWT and Gorongosa National Park ensured the reintroduction of the Park’s first pack of Wild Dogs in decades. This is a landmark occasion, as Wild Dogs have not been reintroduced to any park, protected area, game reserve or other space in the history of Mozambique. This truly represents conservation in action – an ambitious venture to restore Wild Dogs to an incredible ecosystem.

 

Wild Dogs have disappeared from much of their former range in Mozambique, and Gorongosa lost their population during the 1977-1992 Civil War. Today, Gorongosa is Mozambique's flagship natural area - the heart of a region where the Government of Mozambique has teamed with the Carr Foundation on a long-term, 25-year restoration project to rehabilitate a vast and diverse natural ecosystem. In just over a decade, many species in the park have made a strong comeback, including tens of thousands of herbivores. The natural next step is the return of large carnivores.

 

Wild Dogs from South Africa’s EWT-managed metapopulation were used as founder individuals in this reintroduction. The metapopulation, a group of managed national parks and reserves, is the largest population of Wild Dogs in South Africa, numbering 250 individuals in 28 packs (more than that of the Kruger National Park). This population has increased dramatically over the last 20 years and has ensured the increase in Wild Dog range in South Africa by 25% and numbers by 100%.

 

 

The Wild Dogs, still sedated, being unloaded off the airplane upon arrival in Gorongosa

Males from uMkhuze Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) that dispersed from their pack in late 2016 and free-roaming KZN females were earmarked for reintroduction. The EWT, along with local partners Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW), the KZN state veterinary department, WildlifeACT, Maremani Game Reserve, LEDET, and the Bateleurs, caught the two unrelated groups of Wild  Dogs and brought them together to bond in a boma at Phongola Nature Reserve in KZN in South Africa. The pack was fitted with GPS collars and VHF collars to allow for close monitoring once released. All individuals were vaccinated against canine distemper and rabies, as infectious diseases are a big threat to Wild Dogs.

 

The new pack was moved from the Phongola boma to Gorongosa by air transfer. The trip from Phongola to Gorongosa is a two-day drive through long, hot and difficult roads, making air transport with the Bateleurs the safer option, thanks to a combination of safe drugs administered by a qualified veterinarian from EKZNW. The sedated pack was under the experienced guard of both the vet and the EWT’s Wild Dog Metapopulation Coordinator. Upon arrival, the sleeping males and females were bonded together in a novel way, called the olfactory acclimatisation technique. The bonded pack is being held in the newly constructed boma in Gorongosa for six to eight weeks before being released. This is to allow the males and females to become accustomed to one another and get habituated to the local area. During this time, Gorongosa’s Carnivore Conservation Team will monitor the health and status of the pack in the boma before release. The EWT will work closely with the Gorongosa team to train a new generation of Mozambican vets and ecologists in Wild Dog recovery and management.

 

 

 

The Gorongosa team that built the boma where the Wild Dogs will be under observation for 6 to 8 weeks

 

Gorongosa National Park has been described as one of the most diverse parks on Earth, covering a vast expanse of 400,000 hectares. In recent years, the Gorongosa Project, with the support of Mozambique’s National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC), has ensured the protection of a recovering population of Lions in this system, successfully reduced key threats, and seen the Park recognised as one of National Geographic's ‘Last Wild Places.’ It is therefore truly thrilling to take this first, big step on a momentous journey to restore Wild Dogs to this part of their native range.

 

This work is made possible by EWT funders, Richard Bosman and Land Rover Centurion, Gorongosa Project funders, Gorongosa National Park, Oak Foundation, and ZooBoise.

 

About the Gorongosa Project

Gorongosa National Park (GNP) in Mozambique is perhaps Africa's greatest wildlife restoration story. In 2008 a 20-year Public-Private Partnership was established for the joint management of GNP between the Government of Mozambique and the Carr Foundation (Gorongosa Project), a  US nonprofit organization. In 2016 the Government of Mozambique approved the extension for another 25 years of joint management. By adopting a 21st Century conservation model of balancing the needs of wildlife and people, Gorongosa is protecting and saving this beautiful wilderness, returning it to its rightful place as one of Africa’s greatest national parks.

 

For more general information, visit http://www.gorongosa.org

 

About the Endangered Wildlife Trust

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), champion of conservation in Africa, has worked tirelessly for over 45 years to save wildlife and habitats, with our vision being a world in which both humans and wildlife prosper in harmony with nature. From the smallest frog, to the majestic rhino; from sweeping grasslands to arid dry lands; from our shorelines to winding rivers: the EWT is working with you, to protect our world.

The EWT’s team of field-based specialists is spread across southern and East Africa, where committed conservation action is needed the most. Working with our partners, including businesses and governments, the EWT is at the forefront of conducting applied research, supporting community conservation and livelihoods, training and building capacity, addressing human wildlife conflict, monitoring threatened species and establishing safe spaces for wildlife range expansion.

 

A beacon of hope for Africa’s wildlife, landscapes and communities, the EWT is protecting forever, together. Find out more at www.ewt.org.za

 

Front Page Photo - courtesy of the Endangered Wildlife Trust

 

Contacts

David Marneweck

Manager: Carnivore Conservation Programme

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Tel: +27 87 021 0398

Email: DavidM@ewt.org.za

 

Belinda Glenn

Marketing and Communications Manager

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Tel: +27 87 021 0398

Email: BelindaG@ewt.org.za

 

Paola Bouley

Associate Director: Carnivore Conservation

Gorongosa National Park

Tel: +258-87-855-4935

Email: Paola@Gorongosa.net

 

Vasco Galante

Director of Communications

Gorongosa National Park

Tel: +258 82 2970010

Email: vasco@gorongosa.net

 

 

 

 

 

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