To secure the conservation status of wild dogs in the Serengeti Ecosystem by reducing the costs from wild dog predation whilst increasing awareness and benefits to affected communities to support wild dog recovery in the Serengeti Ecosystem.
Historically, the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) had a wide distribution throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa. By 1997, however, wild dogs had disappeared from most of its former range in West and Central Africa, and persisting only in the largest and remotest areas of habitat in Eastern and Southern Africa where human population density is low. Wild dogs range widely and occur at low densities across their range, thus are susceptible to habitat loss and fragmentation, conflict with humans and disease particularly that transmitted from domestic dogs. In 2004 it was estimated that less than 6,000 individuals only remained.
In the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, wild dogs declined from the 1960s and became locally extirpated in the early 1990s. This decline most likely arose from pressure from competition with lions and hyaenas combined with disease and some habitat loss. In Serengeti National Park, the species finally disappeared after outbreaks of rabies, and possibly canine distemper virus. No packs were seen after 1991 although single sex groups were observed up to 1993 in the wider ecosystem. Between 1990 and 2000, wild dog sightings were again reported in the ecosystem, in the Loliondo Game Controlled Area and Ngorongoro Conservation Area and resident packs were identified.
However, as the population increased, so did reports by communities of livestock losses, particularly in areas such as Sonjo where few wild prey remain. The Serengeti Wild Dog Conservation Project was initiated in 2005 to investigate the status of the species and conflict with humans.
Wild dogs do, however, have a higher recreational value for visiting tourists even when compared to other carnivores due to their rarity, sociality and aesthetic attraction, which could potentially benefit communities and offset other costs of their presence from livestock predation. Therefore, linking or involving communities in wild dog conservation is potentially a sustainable approach towards wild dog conservation.
The project aims to continue to support the conservation status of wild dogs in the Serengeti Ecosystem, through an approach that assists communities to mitigate human-wild dog conflict through dealing with problem animals, awareness raising and field , builds community capacity to accrue benefits from wild dogs and provides information to ecosystem managers.
- Monitoring demographic, genetic and health statuses of the Serengeti Ecosystem wild dog population
- Promoting and supporting strengthening of sustainable, transparent and legal wild dog eco-tourism throughout the Serengeti Ecosystem
- Improving knowledge of wild dogs and tourism opportunities among tour operators and tourists
- Promoting coexistence between wild dogs, people and their domestic animals
- Integration of wild dog management with wider stakeholder groups
Emmanuel Hosiana Masenga (TAWIRI)
Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI)
Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA)
Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA)
Carnivore Disease Project (CDP)