Context. Conflict between large carnivores and livestock outside the boundaries of wildlife areas frequently results in losses to both livestock and predator populations. The endangered African wild dog (Lycaon pictus Temminck, 1820) is wide ranging and unrestricted by conventional fences, thereby posing a major challenge to conservation managers. Wild dogs are territorial and communicate residence using scent marks. Simulating the presence of other wild dogs using translocated foreign scent marks may therefore represent a means to manage wild dog ranging behaviour.
Aims. To investigate the effectiveness of using targeted scent-mark deployments to signal a wild dog pack to return to their frequented range within the safety of a protected area.
Methods. We report on the ranging behaviour of a wild dog pack reintroduced into a wildlife area in Botswana with no recent history of resident wild dogs. We describe daily movements by the free-ranging introduced pack and compare these to moves following targeted deployment of scent marks when the wild dog pack had ranged close to or outside the boundaries of the protected area.
Key results.Targeted foreign scent-mark exposure resulted in the pack moving closer to the geometric centre of its range. The mean distance travelled the day after exposure was significantly greater than the distance travelled the previous day and the mean daily distance moved during the study period.
Conclusions.Targeted exposure to foreign scent marks proved to be a viable alternative to recapturing dogs that had ranged beyond the boundaries of the wildlife area.
Implications.This novel approach to managing free-ranging carnivores utilises biologically relevant signals and holds potential not only for the conservation of African wild dogs, but also for other territorial species.