NATIONAL NEWS - Much the same as hyenas, the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) is not the prettiest creature to look at, which may explain why not many people are concerned that they are on the verge of extinction.
Also known as the Cape hunting dog, the painted hunting dog or the hyena dog, these long-legged scruffy canines with comically big ears and four toes per foot are one of the most endangered species in sub-Saharan Africa.
But a coalition of nature and wildlife conservationists have been fighting tooth and nail to preserve this unique breed of canine.
Their efforts are now gaining traction and soon there’ll be an opportunity to catch a glimpse of these scarce and reclusive animals in South Africa.
This is as Makalali Game Reserve, in Limpopo, becomes the newest addition to the Wild Dog Range Expansion Project coordinated by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), which has worked tirelessly since its inception in 1973, to protect Africa’s carnivores.
African Hotels & Adventures CEO Graeme Edmond said that he and the hotel group have a personal interest in the process.
“This project is something that’s very close to my heart and I’m over the moon that I could get African Hotels & Adventures involved in finding a new home for these endangered animals.
“We’ll be paying close attention to their progress in Makalali and will continue to support the process in any way we can.”
Sharing Edmond’s excitement, EWT CEO Yolan Friedmann said wild dogs were close to the organisation’s heart and their partnership with the hotel group could not have been more timeous.
“Without their support and vision, relocations such as this would not be possible.
“The EWT encourages tourists from all over the world to view animals in their wild and free habitats, in places such as Makalali.”
The ultimate goal was to reverse the decline of wild dogs globally, by actively increasing their populations and range throughout southern Africa.
This would be achieved by establishing, maintaining and expanding the safe space for wild dogs; reducing threats to their survival; ensuring positive changes in human-based values regarding the species and laws to better protect them.
Despite efforts such as these, African wild dogs were still among the most threatened animals on the continent. They were under continuous threat from snares, poaching, disease, car deaths and habitat loss.
In southern Africa, the EWT has helped stop this continent-wide trend, and the regional population of dogs has stabilised at about 500 individuals.