Initial post-release monitoring

It is vitally important to monitor the wild dog pack once released into the introduction site. As a member of the South African wild dog managed metapopulation it is the responsibility of the reserve management to keep tabs on their wild dogs and to report on their status at the quarterly WAG meetings. Having knowledge of births, deaths and dispersals within the population is needed to make decisions regarding removing additions of individuals to an area. The intensity and techniques of post-release monitoring will depend directly on the goal of the monitoring itself.  Examples of monitoring goals include:

Monitoring goal and key questions Intensity

General population monitoring i.e. intermittent check-ups to keep tabs on population dynamics
What is the status of the population?

Has any change occurred in the population since the last check-up?

Low – e.g. bi/monthly location of pack(s)

Determination of dietary composition and kill frequency
What are the wild dogs eating?

How frequently are the wild dogs killing?
Low to high – depending on  methods (i.e. relying on opportunistic records – see  3.1.1. for problems with this method -  would require much less effort than active tracking of the pack to determine what they are killing)

Daily resting locations
How are the wild dogs utilizing the space of the reserve?

How far do the wild dogs move daily?
Medium to high – depending on tracking equipment used (i.e. VHF tracking collars would require much more effort than a GPS or satellite collar).

Full-time research

A range of research questions pertaining to population dynamics, behaviour, interaction with other predators and conservation, for example, can be asked.
High – daily tracking and observation of pack(s)

No matter the particular monitoring goals of the reserve it is highly recommended that a newly released metapopulation wild dog pack be closely monitored for at least the first two weeks in their new habitat. It is during this time that the pack will be forced to make their first kills and settle into an unfamiliar territory. If the pack has not made a kill after a certain amount of time a supplementary feed may be considered at the manager’s discretion. It is recommended that, during the first two weeks, if the pack does not make a kill for five consecutive days after their release they should be fed.