Govt releases rare wild dogs into Serengeti

The move brings the number of the endangered carnivores in the country’s second largest National Park to nearly 325.

The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Prof Jumanne Maghembe, officially opened the gates for the wild dogs’ sanctuary which were being confined under special care to allow the fierce animals to begin their free life in the vast Serengeti plains.

The event marked the last series of six-pack releases from the Serengeti Wild Dog Conservation Project aimed at replenishing the national park with its own indigenous species of the endangered animals.

They dogs were initially captured from Loliondo hills where they were constantly in conflict with pastoralists.

The wild dogs have been troublesome for members of pastoral communities with their frequent attacks on goats and sheep for their meals, a situation which has earned them a top spot in the livestock keepers’ hate list.
Cases of poisoned or speared carnivores in Loliondo Division of Ngorongoro and parts of Monduli District have been common in the past.

“The dogs were going into extinct in the early 90s,” pointed out the Tourism minister, adding that since the species of African wild dogs were facing extinction all over the world, it was upon Tanzania to ensure that the carnivores were protected.

Director general of Tanzania National Parks Allan Kijazi described the latest wild dog pack as gypsies, which once travelled from Loliondo through Maasai Mara all the way to Tsavo, before crossing back to Tanzania and ending up in Korogwe and then making their way back to Loliondo.

Previously, five other wild dog packs had been released from conservation projects, including the ‘Kikwete Pack,’ ‘Vodacom Pack,’ ‘Serengeti Park,’ ‘Loliondo Pack,’ and ‘Nyasiruri Pack’ all totaling nearly 125 wilddogs.

All packs have selected wild dogs that are fitted with GPS devices that help conservators and researchers to track their movements.

But the entire Serengeti ecosystem - which also encompasses the former Loliondo Game Controlled Area, Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), Maswa Game Reserve and Kenya’s Maasai Mara - is reported to have 27 packs of wild dogs with nearly 325 each.

The latest (6th) wild dog packs, released from the project was named after Prof Markus Borneran, an expert in Genetic and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Glasgow, who has been researching on the carnivores within the Serengeti ecosystem.

The Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (Tawiri) has been implementing the project with support from the State House, Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), Grumeti Fund (GF), Vodacom Foundation, The University of Glasgow, Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), Tanzania Wildlife Authority, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority.

Emmanuel Masenga and Joseph Kaboya who have been working at the project in Serengeti revealed that Tanzania is one of seven countries in Africa that still have wild dogs, others being Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Botswana and South Africa.