26 Apr Wild Dogs Update
After leaving Lindani a few weeks ago, the pack headed South – as indicated by a few brief glimpses on the way – until they appeared to be focussed on an area about 30kms South of Lindani. The manager of a large game farm known to all of us as Quintus kept trying to track them down but without success.
Then, last week the manager of a neighbouring lodge phoned Quintus to say the pack was in front of their lodge and not moving. Things suddenly started to come together. Quintus is also an experienced chopper pilot and had a charter helicopter on the farm – plus a friend who is a vet happened to have spent the night. We had been keeping the two collars at Lindani and received an urgent call to deliver them ASAP. This we did.
The first flight could not find the dogs and then, with the help of the manager, Bingo – the first dog was darted, collared with the satellite collar and ran off with no ill effects to rejoin the pack. The chopper then set off to collar the second dog with the radio collar. This was more difficult and took two darts to bring another dog down. He was successfully collared but took time to recover.
In the meantime the pack headed north leaving the second dog behind very close to the lodge. Now it was possible to track the movements of the pack as the satellite collar was working perfectly. They again passed through Lindani, coming onto the property behind Thabeng and making a Bushbuck kill close to the Koperspruit about 300m away from the Office – much to the delight of the Stone House guests and ourselves.
From there they continued North stopping at a 5 star lodge on the way for nearly a week – much to the excitement of their international guests. This gave EWT a good opportunity to observe, photograph and video the pack – lo and behold the second collared dog had caught up with the pack. Just amazing reconnaissance behaviour! On top of this, he is clearly the alpha male in the pack and is very interested in the alpha female
Waterberg landowners are now able to follow the dogs’ movements on a daily basis with the consequence that support for protecting these beautiful animals is growing.
The challenge now is to gain even more widespread support from landowners for the eco-tourism project proposed by EWT. This will involve setting up a data base of landowners as well as lodges that are keen for their guests to see the dogs, appointing a monitor to follow the dogs and manage a communication system – all with the intention of generating funds that will in different ways ensure the continued protection of what is a wonderful asset for the Waterberg.
At this point, EWT have candidates in mind for the monitor, Lindani is prepared to provide accommodation. While EWT has been successful in raising funds for the collars and the project as a whole, we desperately need to find R200 000 for the purchase of a bakkie for use by the monitor. Any leads or introductions to a possible sponsor would be welcomed with many hugs!
There are just so many positives coming out of this experience and so many more that could happen in the future. We hope you will share some of our excitement and support it in whatever way you can. Positive media coverage would be great.
Sam van Coller