The African wild dog is seriously endangered due to human-carnivore conflict. Hunting and habitat loss has left fewer than 5,000 wild dogs in all of Africa, as their historic range has shrunk almost 90%. To combat the rapid decline of these carnivores, African Wildlife Foundation is working to understand threats and challenges facing wild dog communities and the best methods of protection.
AWF, in collaboration with the Samburu-Laikipia Wild Dog Project, local communities, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)—and with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)—has employed 12 wild dog scouts from five different communities in Northern Kenya. These scouts, using handheld radios, Global Positioning System (GPS) units, and other equipment provided by AWF, collect information regarding movement and mortality in packs, along with providing information to local communities on pack location.
Scouts are able to earn a livelihood while engaging in conservation that benefits their communities. Additionally, AWF has initiated critical dialogue between communities and key researchers that will help prevent the killing of wild dogs.
So far, scouts have been able to fit several dogs with radio collars, which have provided previously unattainable data on pack size, movement patterns, and migration. This data indicates that new packs of wild dogs are denning in the Samburu Heartland, and populations are growing. This information has additionally been used to reduce human-wildlife conflict, one of the main causes of wild dog population decline. As communities learn more about wild dogs, and as information is provided to them as a means to protect livestock, the future for wild dogs grows brighter.
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