Guest Blog – The Most Endangered Carnivore In South Africa
WRITTEN BY GRANT BEVERLEY | ENDANGERED WILDLIFE TRUST
*FEATURE IMAGE CREDITS TO CHAD COCKING WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY
African Wild Dogs, also known as Painted Wolves, have tragically vanished from 25 out of the 39 countries where they once freely roamed. This heart-wrenching reality places them as the most endangered carnivore in South Africa and second most endangered carnivore in Africa, right after the Ethiopian Wolf. With an estimated 6,600 individuals left, their future hangs by a thread. The threats Wild dogs face such as habitat loss, human wildlife conflict, snaring and disease are well known, and conservationists have been working to reduce their declines for decades.
Conservation originations such as the Endangered Wildlife Trust have endeavoured to do what we can to protect endangered species. Conservation is a noble and heartfelt endeavour, is a path laden with challenges and frustrations. The relentless threats that our precious species endure make this journey a formidable one. As conservationists, we must possess an unwavering determination, a resilience that shields our spirits from weariness. We dedicate ourselves to the cause, investing countless hours of toil and sacrifice, often finding ourselves longing for even the slightest glimmer of reward. we grapple with the harsh reality that our efforts may seem like a drop in the vast ocean of need. It’s a deep well of passion that sustains us. We find solace in the smallest victories, the flickering moments of triumph. Conservation is not for the weak or the faint of heart. It is a battle that requires the steeliest resolve and the most tender compassion. It demands that we persevere, even when the world seems indifferent to the plight of those we fight for. The road may be gruelling, but the rewards, though scarce, are immeasurable.
Fortunately for the African Wild Dogs, decades of conservation effort have shown reward. I started working for the Endangered Wildlife Trust I 2009 where photographic census results suggested there to be approximately 109 adult Wild Dogs alive in Kruger. Although many question the need for hands on conservation or intervention it is this exact approach that has seen their numbers increase. Through initiatives implemented in collaboration not competition with numerous partners on projects such as the Wild Dog Range Expansion and the Greater Kruger Wild Dog project. The main aims of which have been to halt the decline and somewhat optimistically increase numbers. This has been achieved, with approximately 380 Wild Dog in Kruger National Park and a record 401 individuals in the metapopulation which forms part of the Range expansion project.
A proactive approach using multiple tools, technologies and years of experience has allowed us to navigate the challenges with limited time and resources, ensuring our actions align with the urgency of the situation. By embracing cutting-edge technology, we fight tirelessly to safeguard these majestic creatures and secure a brighter future for African Wild Dogs.