The Wild Dog Project - Harnas Wildlife Foundation

African Wild Dog Project

The African Wild Dog is one of the most endangered predators in Africa. Over the past 30 years, African Wild Dog populations have declined to such an extent that only small populations are left in a mere 14 countries, whereas they were previously present in 39 countries. Only six of these countries have populations of more than 100 African wild dogs. There are less than 5000 Wild dogs left in the wild.

Harnas's population of Wild dogs originated from 7 free-roaming adult individuals caught in gin-traps close to Epukiro, a short distance north of Harnas, They were brought to Harnas for rehabilitation in 1996. Subsequently, an additional 4 pups were brought to Harnas following the shooting of their pack in Otjiwarongo District, bordering Bushmanland. Following separation of the dogs into three packs, there have been four litters and the current population stands at 42.

The Harnas Wildlife Foundation recognizes the fact that the African Wild Dog is one of Namibia’s most valuable assets and although re-establishing extirpated populations is one of the lower priorities of African Wild Dog conservation, it is technically possible to re-establish extirpated wild populations by reintroduction, but this provides no substitute for the conservation of existing populations.

In highly fragmented landscapes, African Wild Dogs can be released into a network of small, fenced reserves each supporting one or a few packs to establish intensively managed met populations. Harnas intends to release some of the current captive held dogs into a proposed 10,000 ha reserve. Harnas further intends to generate income from these dogs through an already established eco-tourism infrastructure. The success of the initial phase of the project will serve as an incentive for bordering commercial farmers and the community of Otjinene/ Epukiro to help in the establishment of a commercial–communal conservancy.

The conservation benefits will be:

-To establish a source of African Wild Dogs for possible reintroduction into former ranges

-To provide a reserve should African Wild Dog numbers decrease to critical levels

-To allow problem dogs to be moved to Harnas as a temporary facility for later translocation

-To generate baseline bio-medical data with emphasis on disease screening, vaccine testing, genetics, parasitology, morph metrics and reproductive physiology

-To initiate a met population management program for African Wild Dogs in Namibia enabling a study of diet, predator, prey relationships, prey selection, hunting success and interspecific competition

-To sustain the use of wildlife, especially African Wild Dogs and other natural resources through income generating low impact eco-tourism.

The educational benefits will be:

-To provide environmental education opportunities.

The community benefits will be:

-To create employment opportunities for the Bushman communities living on and around Harnas

-To encourage local people to develop tourism enterprises with Harnas

-To create the incentive to enable people to benefit from tourism on their land and to conserve wildlife and natural resources.

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