oa South African Journal of Wildlife Research - 24-month delayed open access - The distribution and population status of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) outside protected areas in South Africa : research article
At present, a single viable population of endangered African wild dogs occurs in South Africa, in the Kruger National Park. Current conservation efforts focus on reintroducing wild dogs into a series of fenced reserves, thereby creating a meta-population in which sub-populations are actively managed to conserve genetic diversity. Additional options exist for conserving wild dogs outside protected areas. We report on an attempt to assess the numbers of wild dogs remaining outside protected areas as a precursor for conservation planning and show that they form a more significant component of the national population than previously recognized. Total numbers outside protected areas in South Africa are estimated to have fluctuated between 42 and 106 animals during the period 1996-2002. Of these, 25-67 individuals were thought to be resident outside protected areas during this period, with an extent of occurrence of 43 310 km<sup>2</sup> and an area of occupancy of 17 907 km<sup>2</sup>. Sightings were most frequently reported from the western border of Kruger National Park, the Limpopo Valley, and northern KwaZulu-Natal. Most wild dogs occur on game ranches with unmodified land cover and low human densities, close to source populations. Significant scope for distribution expansion exists in the Limpopo and North West Provinces. However, efforts aimed at changing landowner attitudes towards wild dogs are necessary to improve the conservation status of the species outside protected areas.
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