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Rates and causes of mortality in Endangered African wild dogs Lycaon pictus: lessons for management and monitoring

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 May 2007

Rosie Woodroffe*
Department of Wildlife, Fish & Conservation Biology, University of California, 1 Shields Ave, Davis CA 95616, USA
Harriet Davies-Mostert
Venetia Limpopo and Marakele Wild Dog Projects, Endangered Wildlife Trust, PO Box 476, Musina 0900, South Africa
Joshua Ginsberg
Wildlife Conservation Society, 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10460-1099, USA
Jan Graf
School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 4041, South Africa
Kellie Leigh
African Wild Dog Conservation, PO Box 80, Mfuwe, Eastern Province, Zambia
Kim McCreery
African Wild Dog Conservancy, PO Box 30692, Tucson, AZ 85751, USA
Robert Robbins
African Wild Dog Conservancy, PO Box 30692, Tucson, AZ 85751, USA
Gus Mills
SANParks/Endangered Wildlife Trust, Private Bag X402, Skukuza 1350, South Africa
Alistair Pole
19 Rolf Avenue, Ballantyne Park, Harare, Zimbabwe
Gregory Rasmussen
Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Tubney House, Abingdon Road, Tubney, Oxon, OX13 5QL, UK
Michael Somers
Centre for Wildlife Management, Centre for Invasion Biology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
Micaela Szykman
Smithsonian National Zoological Park Conservation and Research Center, 1500 Remount Road, Front Royal, VA 22630, USA
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Effective species conservation depends upon correctly identifying the threats that cause decline or hinder recovery. Because estimates of the relative viability of different populations of Endangered African wild dogs Lycaon pictus are most strongly influenced by adult and pup mortality, we analysed rates and causes of mortality in eight wild dog populations under study in southern and eastern Africa. The probabilities of detecting wild dog deaths were influenced by the monitoring methods used. The least biased estimates of mortality causes were obtained through intensive monitoring of radio-collared individuals; this is impossible for pups, however. Mortality patterns varied substantially between populations. Rates of human-caused mortality were higher for wild dogs radio-collared outside protected areas than for those collared inside, but rates of natural mortality were comparable, suggesting that anthropogenic mortality is additive to natural mortality. The relative importance of factors such as snaring and infectious disease also varied regionally. Hence, although our analyses identified no new threats beyond those highlighted in a 1997 range-wide Action Plan, they suggest that local plans will be valuable to target conservation activities more precisely.

Research Article
Copyright © Fauna and Flora International 2007