Wildlife ACT, comprised of a team of experienced conservationists, said initially the males and females lived in two adjacent compartments of a predator holding facility, commonly referred to as a boma, in the Hluhluwe section of the park.
This passive bonding method allowed the dogs to get to know each other through the separating fence. Over time they began to sleep on this central fence and were soon excitedly following one another up and down the fence line.
"Once the monitoring team were comfortable with the interactions, a decision was made to dart all the individuals and use the rub bonding method in which every individual is rubbed on one another to get the scent of the non-familiar dogs. This method uses the dog’s sense of smell to minimise aggression between each other, as the individuals can smell themselves on the unfamiliar dogs and are more accepting of them in their space.
"When the dogs were woken up, they were monitored closely to ensure success. The dogs spent another few weeks in the boma being monitored daily by the Wildlife ACT Hluhluwe team to ensure the individuals had formed a cohesive and tightly-bonded pack before they were released into the park."
The park's ecologist, Dave Druce, was hopeful that the pack would thrive and the new genetic line created will contribute to Hluhluwe-iMfolozi's wild dog population and the metapopulation in Southern Africa in years to come.
The project is a partnership between Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Wildlife ACT, and the Endangered Wildlife Trust.
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