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1 September 2015 Home Range and Habitat Selection of a Reintroduced African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus) Pack in a Small South African Game Reserve
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Abstract

The African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) is an endangered species and South Africa has only one remaining viable population. Reintroduction of this species in South Africa is of high conservation priority and knowledge of the species' ecology is crucial for success. In this study, important information was gained regarding the reintroduction process although it ultimately failed. The current conservation plan for wild dogs incorporates such existing knowledge, but results from reintroductions (including failures) are needed to strengthen the strategy and its success. The main purpose of this study was to quantify home range area and habitat selection patterns of a wild dog pack unsuccessfully reintroduced into Mkhuze Game Reserve (MGR). A total of 847 radio-tracking fixes of the pack were collected. The home range area of the pack was estimated to be 383.9 km2 (100% minimum convex polygon method) or 377.9 km2 (95% fixed-kernel method), each value being larger than the area of the game reserve (360 km2). Significant monthly variations in home range areas of the pack were detected, with a maximum monthly home range area reached at ∼10 months after tracking began (19 months after the pack was reintroduced). Independent of season, the pack consistently selected Acacia nilotica low-closed woodland and consistently avoided riverine forest habitats. Small differences in home range areas of the pack were found between wet and dry seasons. The deaths of some wild dogs were the result of snares, and others may have been due to predation or hunting injuries. We present evidence that factors including game reserve area, availability of preferred habitat and climate may have contributed to the distribution patterns and ultimately the failure to maintain viable numbers during this wild dog reintroduction. The reintroduction of wild dogs to MGR was successful in that the introduced wild dogs bred, owing to the release of a pregnant female, but was considered unsuccessful since none of the dogs from the reintroduced pack survived or remained in MGR for more than two years. However, two wild dogs returned shortly after radio-tracking sessions ceased and were soon joined by another female from an adjacent game reserve.

Eva Jenkins, Marina Silva-Opps, Sheldon B. Opps, and Michael R. Perrin "Home Range and Habitat Selection of a Reintroduced African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus) Pack in a Small South African Game Reserve," African Journal of Wildlife Research 45(2), 233-246, (1 September 2015). https://doi.org/10.3957/056.045.0233
Received: 29 April 2012; Accepted: 1 June 2015; Published: 1 September 2015
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