Area and prey requirements of wild dogs Lycaon pictus under varying habitat conditions: implications for reintroductions

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South African Journal of Wildlife Research





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In South Africa efforts are currently being made to manage several sub-populations of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) occurring in isolated, fenced reserves, as a metapopulation. This study represents an attempt to estimate the minimum reserve size for the reintroduction of a pack of wild dogs, as a sub-population. Minimum area requirements were based on the area required to support an adequate population of the most important prey species in the diet of a pack of wild dogs. A pack size of five is the threshold below which reproductive failure is likely, and the area requirements of five wild dogs are estimated to be 65 km2 in northern, 72 km2 in eastern and 147 km2 in northeastern South Africa. The presence of perimeter fencing at release sites is a potentially complicating factor, however, as in some cases wild dogs learn to use fences as a hunting tool, permitting the capture of larger prey than is normal. In the event of this happening, larger areas may be required to prevent local population declines in preferred prey species. In general, the use of larger areas is advisable to allow for variation in prey population sizes and the prey profile of wild dogs post-release, and would also be necessary if wild dogs are to be reintroduced into an area with existing populations of lions and spotted hyaenas.

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