The Kalahari African Wild Dog Conservation Project (KAWDCP) was established in March 2021, however, it has been in the making since 2019. KAWDCP is a grassroots field based organization, the only organization in Namibia dedicated to the African Wild dogs (AWD). The KAWDCP has taken on the mission of AWD conservation throughout Namibia in hopes of not only preserving the devastatingly low current population, but also to one day increase the overall numbers to a sustainable population count.
AWDs are Namibia’s most endangered large carnivore and with less than 350 individuals remaining, they are listed as specially protected in Namibia. Unfortunately, AWD conservation has been neglected, especially the free roaming populations outside of National Parks (NPs). Yearly records indicate progressively higher incidents of lethal persecution to AWDs, compared to other species, leaving them vulnerable to being wiped out completely. It’s our aim to address this and to ensure the survival of the species.
Lethal persecution is the leading cause of AWDs deaths in Namibia, as a result of Human Wildlife Conflict. This constant struggle has left many farms without the economic income their livestock would bring, due to falling prey to local predators. This in turn, causes animosity within farming communities, often leading to persecution as the farmers see this as their only option. Every denning season multiple packs are persecuted due to this conflict with the local communities. Dens are sought out and destroyed, resulting in mortalities of whole litters of pups as well as multiple adolescents and adults in the packs, often times resulting in many cases of pack disintegration.
As we speak, KAWDCP are working on placing the first ever GPS collars on SWDs of this particular population in northeast Namibia, the most elusive, unknown and most persecuted populations in Namibia, if not Africa! These collars will help the organization keep track of where the animals are, in order to cease future preventable persecution. This will also provide an early warning system for the farmers to keep their calves and smaller animals safe from the predators, which in turn will reduce conflict and build relationships. The collaboration between conservationists and farmers will not only help to prevent persecution, but will work to reshape the perception the wild dogs carry within the community.
The KAWDCP team are collaring key individual AWDs, to understand dispersal patterns, and to monitor trends in AWD ecology over time in persecuted populations. However, immediate collaring of Individuals will also enable us to protect dens as well as alerting researchers and MEFT Rangers if packs are moving into an area they aren’t tolerated and at high risk of persecution or predating on farmers livestock.
The project will hold regular community meetings to share information about number and location of AWDs. This way we will raise awareness of the situation of AWDs in the area and introduce HWC mitigation tools to reduce conflict. We will produce written reports each quarter to share project results with communities, partners and stakeholders. Additionally, the information will be presented at various forums and platforms such as farmer association meetings, community meetings, universities, national and international workshops or conferences.
Through partnership and collaboration with organizations including zoos, universities, publications, non-profits, and many more we are able to join forces on the fight to end AWD persecution. It truly takes a village to make lasting change and it is through communication, education, and preservation we are able to work towards a day where the goal becomes a reality. Thank you for giving us a moment of your time and we look forward to hopefully bettering the future of the AWD together.