Habituation for management

The habituation of packs, for the purpose of management, is important in the metapopulation as, due to their relatively small sizes, reserves often share borders with private game farms, livestock farms or community areas. By developing a method whereby the pack can be ‘called’ back onto the reserve should they break out, further conflict can be minimised. A popular method is to habituate the pack to the sound of a vehicle hooter or whistle. It is easiest to begin the habituation process while the dogs are still being held in the boma; each time the dogs are provided with a meal of meat the vehicle hooter/whistle should be blasted to create an association of the sound of the hooter/whistle with the prospect of food. If the pack then breaks out sometime in the future the reserve fence can be opened, a carcass secured nearby and hooter blasted to ‘call’ or assist with luring them back. This can also be used to ‘call’ the wild dogs into range if any other kind of management intervention is required. To maintain the association between the sound of the hooter/whistle and the prospect of food a habituation feed should be conducted at least every 2 to 3 months.