The effects of fences and lions on the ecology of African wild dogs reintroduced to Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa
Wild dogs have been eradicated from most of South Africa. However, a large number of smaller isolated reserves offer the potential for metapopulation conservation management of this species through continued translocations among reserves. Wild dogs were released into the Pilanesberg National Park (500 km2), South Africa, in June 1999 from a combination of wild captured and captive bred individuals. The reserve has lions but no spotted hyaenas. We document post release spatial use, prey selection and breeding biology. Dogs used a very small area (13.4 km2) for their first denning period, and then ranged more widely, but avoided the central parts of the park. Movement patters and den site locations suggested that dogs avoided the presence of lions. Major prey species were kudu (50 %), impala (32 %) and waterbuck (14 %). Large prey, including adult male kudu (250 kg) and waterbuck (260 kg) were taken regularly through use of the boundary fence as an aid to capture. Wild dogs have bred three times since introduction, indicating that reserves as small as 200 km2 may be suitable for intro duction of wild dogs, and metapopulation management strategies may be a viable option as long as sympatric large predator populations are absent or managed appropriately.
Key words: Lycaon pictus, Panthera leo, conservation, foraging, management, meta population, translocation.