Opportunistic reports

Relying on opportunistic reports of wild dogs in metapopulation reserves is an unreliable, often unregulated and biased method of monitoring a population. Despite this it can still be a very useful tool, especially in reserves where tourism is popular and people are often moving around the area. A standardised reporting method must, however, be established. For example, all reserve staff, whether they are tourism or maintenance staff, should notify management as soon as wild dogs, or even evidence of wild dogs, are seen.

The reports from fencing staff are especially important in small reserves where wild dogs frequently learn to use the fences to hunt or dispersers break out. In reserves where tourists drive themselves an easy way to report wild dog sightings must be made available. Some suggestions are to have a ‘sightings hotline’ that tourists can phone as they see the wild dogs, or a sightings book that people can fill in as they pass through reserve camps or gates. It must, however, be noted that data from opportunistic reports can be highly biased as only activities on fences or roads are generally recorded, ignoring any activity away from roads.