2010 has been a good year for African wild dogs in some of the most northern of Botswana’s wildlife areas. At least three different packs raised pups in the Linyanti and Selinda concessions. Wild dog movements become somewhat restricted during the denning period. Even after the new pups come out of the den, the packs seldom move too far each day. Once the pups are a few months older though, the dog packs range far and wide. A few individual dogs were fitted with tracking collars in 2009, and these collars have provided some very interesting results already. Aside from the images of wild dogs accompanying this text, there is also a map showing movements of three different packs.
What is immediately apparent from the map is that the pack plotted in yellow has a home range that runs along the Linyanti River. During the course of the last year, this pack has ranged over a distance in excess of 80kms, from west to east. Their movements take them completely out of the Linyanti concession, and the small finger of land that is part of Chobe, to the east. At least two villages are included in their home range. What this tells us is that this pack is running a very high risk of contracting diseases from domestic dogs. Canine distemper and rabies are just two of several diseases that can be transmitted to wild dogs when they come into contact with either village dogs *or* their stray relatives. Wild dogs have little resistance to diseases carried by domestic dogs. The social nature of the packs mean that once one dog in the pack becomes infected the disease will usually spread throughout the pack very rapidly.
A local animal charity organization is working hard to try and prevent this happening. MAWS is a Maun-based animal welfare organization that is conducting a vaccination program to prevent disease in domestic dogs that are living in and around villages. Their aim is to reduce disease in domestic dogs, and thereby also reduce the risk of those diseases being transmitted to populations of wild dogs moving through those areas. Anybody interested in finding out more about MAWS or supporting this worthy project should contact Helen Apps. Her email address is email@example.com.
African wild dogs need every bit of help we can give them!
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