13 June 2016
The dens were spaced throughout the park and the wild dogs seem to be utilising Gonarezhou to its full extent and doing well. This is despite an increasing lion population and may be the result of the two species increasing concurrently, allowing the wild dogs to modify their behaviour to avoid being negatively impacted by lions.
Unfortunately, the wild dogs are also facing threats from outside park borders. A number of them were noticed with snares; mostly on packs resident in the Mabalauta subsection, indicating a wire snare poaching problem in or around the south of the park. Though continuous efforts are made to remove the snares, this is not an easy task, as it is very difficult to get close enough to dart them. An African wild dog was also killed by a speeding vehicle on the Chikombedzi Road.
A potential cause for concern, unless it is a natural fluctuation, is the park’s leopard population. There has been a steady decline since its highest density in 2012 when there were an estimated 524 leopards in the park. This dropped to only 450 in 2013, 398 in 2014 and 388 in 2015.
Though spoor surveys are valuable indicators of a trend, numbers must be treated with caution. Results from the survey suggest a total population of 90 cheetah in the whole park, which represents a healthy population for a species that is naturally low density and wide-ranging.
Story by Piet Theron
Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park
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