While Rhino poaching dominates South African media, the plight of the African Wild Dog is not as well documented. Wild Dogs are South Africa’s most threatened carnivore with less than 450 of the so-called ‘painted dogs’ remaining in South Africa.
Land Rover South Africa has supported the African Wild Dog through its partnership with the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and its Carnivore Conservation Programme since 2001.
Land Rover sponsors the EWT with a Defender 110 Double Cab and a Defender 130 Double Cab. The vehicles are used by the EWT field workers and stationed at the Kruger National Park and the Hluluwe iMolozi Park respectively. They are used for ongoing scientific research in the generic mapping and population management of various Wild Dog populations, and the movement of animals to suitable areas where prey is freely available and there is less of a need to prey on farm animals.
Managing the African Wild Dog population in South Africa is particularly complex as a result of their social dynamics and the significant threat posed by habitat fragmentation, continued persecution in some areas of South Africa, snaring and vehicle strikes.
“There are, approximately 5 500 free-ranging African Wild Dogs left in Africa. They have disappeared from at least 25 countries during the past 50 years. With fewer than 450 free ranging African Wild Dogs left in South Africa it is the country’s rarest carnivore,” says Brendan Whittington-Jones of the EWT.
With the long-term viability of the species under threat, careful management of the species and the threats its faces are required. The Land Rover Defenders used by the EWT field workers are therefore an invaluable asset to the team.
“The Defenders are the perfect tool for us in the field. We’re always on the move, following up on sightings and monitoring the movement of the packs. Some days we need to transport people and other days we need to relocate dogs. No day is the same and it’s important we have the versatility to deal with any situation,” concludes Whittington-Jones.
Land Rover South Africa is passionate about contributing towards the preservation of an ecologically important species and in particular one that is extremely challenging to conserve.