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.

Order Underdogs on my website

4 Responses to “Are The Dog Days Over…”

  1. I was really sad to hear the news about the dogs Neil. We came in touch with each other through your wonderful book Underdogs and now one of these pack of Painted Dogs has gone. Humans are so cruel to wildlife I feel for them and remember my days with the pack in Namibia, better times and great memories of being with the dogs.

    The pictures are fabulous from Canada, if I get one shot off close to the quaility of yours in the Great Bear Rainforest next year I would be pleased.

    Best wishes as always

    • Neil Aldridge Says:

      Thank you for your kind thoughts about my book Phillip & for being such a supporter of the dogs. I still can’t quite believe that entire Limpopo valley sub-population has pretty much gone. When I started on Underdogs there was so much optimism for opening up more land & linking the various packs. I am hugely jealous of your impending trip to Great Bear. The logistics didn’t work out for us to get up there from Vancouver Island with boats & guides all being unavailable. Still, the platform has been put in place for future trips…starting as soon as possible. Make sure you keep in touch & send me some of your pics. All the very best, Neil

      • Thanks Neil for your comments, Great Bear Rainforest is on the list because I am a supporter of Pacific Wild and had Ian over here to speak at the RGS some time back to enlighten people about the forest and the wonders and of course dangers that threaten it.

        Logistically this is quite challenging but going to start at Denny Island (Bella Bella) and see how I get on – plenty of time to plan the fine details as the trip is next year and after some aurora chasing in the winter. Will keep you posted – Phillip

      • Neil Aldridge Says:

        Great to hear you’re a supporter of Pacific Wild Phillip. With your relationship, I have no doubt Ian will be able to help make this a great trip for you.

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