Efforts going to the dogs? Evaluating attempts to re-introduce endangered wild dogs in South Africa

Authors

  • Markus Gusset,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 4041, South Africa;
    2. Centre for Wildlife Management, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa;
      Correspondence: Markus Gusset, Botswana Predator Conservation Program, Private Bag 13, Maun, Botswana. E-mail mgusset@bluewin.ch
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  • Sadie J. Ryan,

    1. Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management and Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA, and Department of Anthropological Sciences, Stanford University Stanford, CA 94305, USA;
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  • Markus Hofmeyr,

    1. Veterinary Wildlife Services, South African National Parks, Skukuza 1350, South Africa;
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  • Gus Van Dyk,

    1. School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 4041, South Africa;
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  • Harriet T. Davies-Mostert,

    1. Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX13 5QL, UK;
    2. Endangered Wildlife Trust, Parkview 2122, South Africa;
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  • Jan A. Graf,

    1. School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 4041, South Africa;
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  • Cailey Owen,

    1. School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 4041, South Africa;
    2. KERI Research, Nelspruit 1200, South Africa;
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  • Micaela Szykman,

    1. Conservation and Research Center, Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Front Royal, VA 22630, USA;
    2. Department of Wildlife, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA 95521, USA;
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  • David W. Macdonald,

    1. Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX13 5QL, UK;
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  • Steven L. Monfort,

    1. Conservation and Research Center, Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Front Royal, VA 22630, USA;
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  • David E. Wildt,

    1. Conservation and Research Center, Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Front Royal, VA 22630, USA;
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  • Anthony H. Maddock,

    1. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough, PE1 1JY, UK;
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  • M. Gus L. Mills,

    1. Tony and Lisette Lewis Foundation and Mammal Research Institute, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa; and
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  • Rob Slotow,

    1. School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 4041, South Africa;
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  • Michael J. Somers

    1. Centre for Wildlife Management, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa;
    2. DST–NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
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  • M. Gusset and S. J. Ryan share first authorship.

Correspondence: Markus Gusset, Botswana Predator Conservation Program, Private Bag 13, Maun, Botswana. E-mail mgusset@bluewin.ch

Summary

  • 1We evaluated one of the most extensive efforts to date to re-introduce an endangered species: attempts to establish an actively managed meta-population of African wild dogs Lycaon pictus in South Africa.
  • 2 Using an information-theoretic approach, known-fate modelling in program mark was employed to estimate the survival of re-introduced wild dogs and their offspring, and to model covariate effects relative to survival. Multiple a priori hypotheses on correlates of re-introduction success were tested (collated from extensive individual experiences) using different re-introduction attempts as natural quasi experiments.
  • 3Survival analyses revealed that the determinants of re-introduction success can be reduced to two factors relevant for management, suggesting that wild dog re-introductions should be attempted with socially integrated animals that are released into securely fenced areas, unless measures are implemented to mitigate human-related mortalities outside protected areas.
  • 4Synthesis and application. This study illustrates that monitoring and evaluation of conservation efforts, complimented with expert knowledge, forms the foundation of informed decision-making to underpin management recommendations with scientific evidence, particularly if the proposed actions are controversial.

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