13 December 2017
Dear Allied Nutrition Valued Customer
The greatest threat amongst animals currently is habitat loss and fragmentation, which is also one of
the reasons why wild dogs are one of the most endangered carnivores in Africa. HESC is home to
several problem animals from around the greater Kruger area – wild dogs included.
Wild dogs, according to the WWF, are listed as endangered. With their fascinating physique, unique
social hierarchy and their nomadic lifestyle, they are well coordinated agile hunters of the bush. With
less than 5000 estimated left in the wild, with less than 600 left in South Africa alone, the reason for
their decline are that farmers may regard them as vermin, poachers’ snares meant for other game and
human civilization encroaching on their habitat. It is interesting to note that 12 – 15 000 ha is required
to sustain one pack of wild dogs. Other causes of their population decline are though diseases such
as rabies, contracted usually from domestic animals. Because of their highly social nature one rabid
wild dog would quickly infect the rest of the pack, wiping them out entirely.
At HESC, we housed 4 male wild dogs. These males were not part of a bigger breeding pack and were
not participating to the survival of the specie due to the lack in females. Under HESC’s care and
supervision these badly injured males recovered completely and are able to contribute towards the
wild dog population.
Over the last couple of months, Kapama Private Game Reserve (Greater Kruger – Hoedspruit area) had
frequent sightings and visuals on two female wild dogs. This created the thought of re-introducing
the four-male wild dog at HESC to the females, contributing to the bigger metapopulation of the wild
dogs in the greater Kruger area.
Unfortunately, nature doesn’t always play with and can never be predicted.
As time and plans started to mature, the pack of four male wild dogs at HESC, one of the wild dogs
was not accepted by the other three wild dogs. We were extremely sad and set back with the fact that
our pack of 4 males didn’t bond as expected, however we remained positive about our next challenge
and change of direction.
Our planned wild dog release needed to be re-assessed and persistent with the idea, find an outline
below of our action plan for the release of the Hoedspruit wild dogs.
PLAN OF ACTION WITH THE WILD DOGS
At the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre
• Due to the problem we experienced during the bonding period of the current 4 wild dogs, we
decided to change the group of males and house them in camps with newly erected feeding
areas covered with shade netting.
• The male dogs in the quarantine facility were darted by the resident veterinarian (Dr. Peter
Rodgers) and moved to the feeding camp of the wild dog enclosure.
• Two male dogs named “Klaserie” and “Hoedspruit” were cleaned, sanitized and quarantined
by appointed staff in adjacent individual camps.
• DNA samples were taken from both dogs by Dr Rodgers ensuring the guarantee of males
• Curators observe daily behavior of the newly introduced wild dogs.
• At night the Bushnell Camera Traps are employed and every morning all data is analyzed by
• Fecal samples were taken before and after the introduction phase in collaboration with our
research students protocol in order to analyse the stress levels.
• Glucocorticoids (GCs) and catecholamines (CAs) hormones, excreted in the feces were
measured as indicators of stress levels.
• Depending on the results the estimated monitoring time was between 1-2 weeks.
• After familiarization, the drop gate between the two males remained open to facilitate the
free movement between the two individuals.
• Two weeks after introducing Klaserie and Hoedspruit to each other, they were darted and
Radio collars fitted.
• During the latter part of December, both dogs will be released onto Kapama Private Game
• With the aid of the radio collars, monitoring the movements of the two males will be done
daily, over a 3-year period.
Meet the two heroes and how to identify them in our story
We wish to thank the customers of Allied Nutrition for their contribution which totals R35 000 to
HESC. The funds have been used to cover the costs of the Radio collars which were fitted to the 2
male wild dogs (Klaserie and Hoedspruit) before being introduced back into the Kapama Private game
reserve. This is to ensure that our rangers and staff can monitor their movements and daily behaviour.
Hopefully and ideally the 2 male dogs will team up with the 2 female wild dogs currently in the
reserve and will bond and form a formidable new wild dog pack in the area.
In doing so, this is a small yet significant step towards securing our wild dog populations to be
enjoyed by our children and future generations.
Yours in conservation