"The Kalahari African Wild Dog Conservation Project is committed to the conservation of Namibia’s African Wild Dogs" .... Nadja le Roux
The Kalahari African Wild Dog (AWD) Conservation Project (KAWDCP) was established in March 2021, however, it has been in the making since 2019. African Wild Dogs (AWDs) are Namibia’s most endangered large carnivore and with less than 350 individuals remaining, they are listed as critically endangered. Unfortunately, AWD conservation has been seriously neglected especially the free roaming populations outside of National Parks (NPs).
Data as far back as the 1920s indicates that AWDs were widespread in Namibia, however by 1990 the species had diminished and restricted only to the north and north east of the country. The species is now extinct throughout the rest of Namibia.
Whilst AWD’s will be the main target, as a flagship species for KAWDCP, we will adopt a holistic approach to the project addressing multiple wildlife species causing human wildlife conflict (HWC) whilst safeguarding the livelihoods of rural communities in Namibia who might be impacted.
Namibia’s AWD are part of a dynamic transboundary population that spans five countries including Angola, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In Namibia, their range is currently restricted to the Zambezi, East and West Kavango, eastern Otjozondjupa and northern Omaheke regions, an area of 181,441 km2. The Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) Trans-Frontier Conservation Area (TFCA) is an important area for AWD’s, where an estimated 25% of the world’s AWD population is located.
The focal area of the project is within the eastern Omaheke and Otjozondupa Regions, comprising free-hold farms (a combination of game and livestock farming), resettled farms (occupied by previously displaced Namibians), traditional communal conservancies and the Khaudum and Mangetti National Parks. The project intends to operate south of Khaudum NP, in the Tsumkwe District, where the marginalised Ju/’hoan San community reside.
Records indicate that yearly fatal persecution of AWDs within this area are significantly higher than packs residing in the Zambezi Region. The use of poison, trapping, den destruction and shooting are the main methods used. Multiple records show that whole packs are being destroyed in one incident. With high natural mortality of AWD pups, only a few make it through to dispersal age, thereafter facing additional challenges such as larger predator conflict, road mortalities and further persecution. Statistics indicate that the alpha animals and adults from natal packs are killed when dens are targeted, wiping out valuable generational survival skills whilst leaving packs disorientated and in a state of disintegration. Alternatively, it is the inexperienced young dispersal animals that are killed. They play a vital role to the survival of the species bringing critical genetic diversity to other populations within the KAZA area and surrounding populations.
The KAWDCP is building on and supplementing pre-existing research and conservation,
in the area, adopting a holistic approach to all conflict-causing wildlife species. The project’s goals are to identify potential solutions through research, monitoring, collaboration and human wildlife conflict mitigations in order to gain a better understanding of AWD ecology outside of (NPs) and the threats facing them.
© 2023 Kalahari African Wild Dog Conservation Project