Durban – A pack of 12 wild dogs in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park has died from what was believed to canine distemper virus, an Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife official said on Tuesday.
Ezemvelo and Endangered Wildlife Trust officials made the discovery following routine monitoring of the pack through a tracking collar fitted to the pack’s beta female, spokesperson Musa Mntambo said.
“This collar indicated that the pack had been stationary for 36 hours. This observation was made three weeks or so ago and given the highly active nature of wild dogs, which tend to hunt twice a day, the alarm was raised.”
Mntambo said they found a number of dead wild dogs.
“Others were lethargic and showing signs of illness, including neurological problems and laboured breathing. These animals were monitored, food and care was offered over the next few days, but unfortunately all ultimately succumbed to their illness, despite the team’s best efforts.”
Ezemvelo veterinarians conducted a post-mortem and early indications were that canine distemper was the cause. Samples had been sent for analysis to confirm this.
African wild dogs are the most endangered carnivore in South Africa. The Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park had the second-largest population in the country after the Kruger National Park.
The death of the pack reduced the number of wild dog packs in the park to six, and the total number of wild dogs in the park to 57.
The park would continue to monitor the health of its wild dogs.