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Wild dog – the picture in Zambia

Wild dog – the picture in Zambia

Wild dog – the picture in Zambia

African wild dogs, perhaps more than any other large carnivore in Africa, need space, and lots of it. They have evolved as a wide-ranging coursing predator, and this behaviour often brings them into contact with myriad negative human influences. 

Few areas remain sizeable enough for this endangered species to persist. Fortunately Zambia has plenty of room for wild dogs, with approximately 250,000 km2 of land managed for wildlife (over one third of the country). Dogs do not recognize international boundaries, and Zambia borders seven other countries with wild dog populations in both eastern and southern Africa.

Part of numerous Trans-frontier Conservation Areas (TFCA), Zambia is important for dogs on a local, national and regional level. Protecting the dogs protects these areas, thus wild dogs could be considered the ‘poster child’ for conservation of large contiguous areas of land for wildlife in Zambia.

However, as with everywhere dogs are found, there are numerous threats facing them, and field-based conservation work is needed to guide management. In collaboration with the Zambia Wildlife Authority and partner organizations, institutions and individuals, the Zambian Carnivore Programme (ZCP) works on wild dogs across the country. Intensive study areas differ markedly in dog distribution, abundance, and the array of human, environmental and biological factors affecting them. 

The massive Greater Kafue ecosystem holds Zambia’s largest population of wild dogs and is part of Africa’s largest remaining dog population in the Kavango-Zambezi TFCA.  Eastern Zambia’s Luangwa valley is the second largest population in the country, and the Greater Liuwa System in western Zambia holds small but recovering populations of dogs following years of wildlife declines from neighbouring civil wars. 

In an effort to conserve this species, ZCP work is a combination of intensive studies of packs and individuals coupled with broader scale abundance and distribution work, ongoing studies of competing carnivores and predator-prey dynamics, as well as habitat conservation, disease control, and anti-snaring work. 

In addition, the programme places emphasis on the training, education, and employment of Zambians for the long-term viability of wild dog conservation efforts, with educational initiatives in place from the secondary school level up through the international Ph.D. level.

Collectively, this will help ensure that the great expanses of land in Zambia remain intact for wildlife, and that this high-profile and charismatic endangered species continues to roam there.

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 11, Dec 2012)

Read more about the region in our destination guide:

Read more about African wild dog from teh Zambezi Traveller:
African Wild Dogs - The Best Team in Africa
The Hwange painted dog project
Protecting wild dog in Luangwa
Zambezi key to African wild dog’s future
Wild dog – the picture in Zambia
The African Wild Dog
Building Boundaries with Scent