Are The Dog Days Over…
In 2009 I was lucky enough to spend time with a pack of African wild dogs and their one month old pups at their den site deep in the Limpopo river forest. The time spent with them still rates as my favourite wildlife experience and the photographs that I took feature heavily in my new African wild dog book Underdogs. This is why it was so hard to receive the news that the pack was found dead from deliberate poisoning recently.
Andrei Snyman of Botswana’s Northern Tuli Predator Project reported that the pack had been found dead at their new den site agonsingly soon after the alpha female had given birth to a new litter of pups. To make matters worse, a male leopard, African wild cat and African hawk eagle were also found poisoned after feeding on two carcasses laced with Temic – a highly toxic poison. Two men have been arrested in connection with the incident and claim that they lost livestock to the animals (although it cannot be said which species was responsible for the predation).
The incident spells the end of the line (for now) for the Tuli wild dog pack – once a much celebrated success story following their high profile cross-border translocation from South Africa. The incident also threatens the viable future of the wild dog in the Limpopo Valley following on from the removal of the Venetia Limpopo pack just across the river in South Africa in 2010. With wild dog numbers so low and populations so sparsely distributed, sub-populations like the Limpopo Valley population are essential for the future of the species as young wild dogs can disperse to form new packs and keep the gene pool healthy.
This news came to me just days before my African wild dog book Underdogs arrives in South Africa. The story of the Tuli pack features in the book and I am really proud to be supporting wild dog conservation through sales so please do visit my website to order your signed copy. Every copy sold will make a real difference on the ground to those few wild dogs remaining and to the people dedicating their lives to protecting these charismatic yet marginalised predators.