URGENT and concerted action is needed to save Namibia’s African wild dog population from extinction.
This was spelled out by Robin Lines of the Wild Dog Project after the release of the project’s 2008 report.
Lines said the report shows that Namibia has only about 300 wild dogs left and the population is declining at a rate of 10 per cent a year.
The report recommends that wild dogs should be re-introduced in protected areas such as Etosha National Park.
“Important management decisions are urgently needed at Government level to ensure a viable population under protected area coverage, while improving the conservation status of current free-ranging population,” the report says.
It says Namibia has an important, yet declining population of African wild dogs, representing between four and nine per cent of the total free-ranging population of 3 000 to 5 000 dogs on the continent.
According to the latest estimates, there are fewer than 32 breeding packs in Namibia, most of them outside protected areas.
This means that the majority of the packs are threatened by human activities.
THREATS In the past 100 years, the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) population has declined by 98 per cent and its range reduced by 95 per cent.
The African wild dog has become extinct in nearly every isolated protected area, and even where well managed, because of persecution on park boundaries.
African wild dogs are extinct in 24 of the 39 countries in their former range, with only nine countries having populations of more than 100 individuals.
The dog’s preferred habitat is savannah, grassland and woodland.
Threats to the population include habitat loss, hunting and poisoning by humans, disease spread from domestic animals and isolated populations.
The African wild dog is listed on Appendix I of the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), a list of highly endangered animal and plant species.