PhD Student, University of Pretoria
Location: S. Africa
Research: The social dynamics of African wild dog pack formation: Implications for translocation success
Species/Topic: African Wild Dogs
Abstract: The current conservation strategy in South Africa for the endangered African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) is an intensively managed metapopulation approach facilitated by reintroductions and translocations. This enables wildlife managers to work around the isolation of protected areas to simulate the gene flow and dispersal events that would take place in an open system. Evaluations of introduction efforts have emphasized the importance of sociality in introduction success and studies of free-ranging wild dogs have indicated that mate choice plays a strong role in successful pack formation. This project proposes research on the social dynamics of pack formation in wild dogs, utilizing artificially manipulated pack formation attempts executed as part of reintroductions and translocations as samples. It is a behavioural study of the social indicators of successful pack formation with the ultimate goal of increasing the success rate of translocations and reintroductions and increasing individual animal survivorship during the introduction process.