Apologies that this is slightly old news – I never seem to get a moment to catch up with life at the moment, but this story is too exciting to miss!
A few months ago, I got an email from a colleague of mine, Craig Jackson, who works on wild dogs in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve in Botswana. He attached a photo of an adult male wild dog who had recently showed up in the Tuli Game Reserve but no-one knew where he had come from. This is the photo Craig sent:
I just could not believe it when I opened the photo file and immediately recognized the dog in question!!! We all know wild dogs can travel long distances, and recently we’ve started to share photos of dogs that randomly show up on the off-chance someone else recognizes them, but I didn’t really expect much from that. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw that indeed yes I did recognize the dog! He is a male dog that was born on Mapari Ranch in Save Valley Conservancy in 2008. We called him Milo, and here is one of my old photos of him.
The mark at the top of his hind left leg is unmistakable and all other features matched too, so I was very confident in confirming the match. A few days later, Craig managed to get a photo of another male wild dog who had been with Milo, and we could also confirm that as one of our males from Save Valley – Milo’s brother Macbeth!
So all in all, these two dogs moved approximately 470km (straight line distance) from where they were born, crossed huge expanses of inhospitable territory, and an international boundary, and ended up joining some female wild dogs and forming a new pack in Botswana. Quite incredible!!
Just prior to this, another long distance dispersal had been picked up when a group of dogs moved almost 500km from the Northern Tuli Game Reserve in Botswana to Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. These two were (and still are) the longest wild dog dispersals ever recorded. The map below shows these movements.
For more on this story, see Craig’s blog by clicking here.
As part of a collaborative conservation effort within the Southern African region, I am putting together a regional photographic database of all known, photographed wild dogs in northern South Africa, southern Zimbabwe and south eastern Botswana, and we hope this will help us pick up on more of these long distance dispersal events to further our understanding of dispersal patterns and the consequences for genetic diversity.
And maybe one of these days we will get lucky and it will be a dog fitted with a GPS collar that disperses – imagine the information that collar download would give us!