Wild dogs in Gonarezhou - going from strength to strength!
The Gonarezhou Predator Project has had a very successful few months. Thanks to head scout Rueben Bote's exceptional tracking skills, we have managed to locate six African wild dog den sites in the northern section of Gonarezhou NP.
Based on the distribution of these den sites, and evidence of packs in other places, we suspect there to be at least 12 packs of this endangered species in Gonarezhou, probably numbering close to 120 adult wild dogs, making it a very significant area for their conservation. We have camera traps up at all den sites, which help us to record pack dynamics, litter sizes and den site disturbances (e.g. by lions and hyenas). We also use these photo to make photographic identikits for all the packs.
The wild dogs are being seen relatively often by visitors to the park, particularly the Hwange Pack, the Chilojo Pack and one of the packs in the south (probably Shangana Pack). Likewise, we are receiving noticeably more reports of lion sightings from visitors, most notably of a pride of up to 10 lions around the main tourist camps at the cliffs, which is great! Leopard are seen occasionally as well, and heard frequently by visitors. Our 6th annual carnivore spoor survey is planned for August 2014 and will give us further indication of the large carnivore population trends.
Update provided by Dr Rosemary Groom, who heads the Gonarezhou Predator Project - a collaborative effort of the Frankfurt Zoological Society, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, and the African Wildlife Conservation Fund.