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Conserving the African wild dog Lycaon pictus. II. Is there a role for reintroduction?



African wild dogs Lycaon pictus have been extirpated across most of West and central Africa, and greatly depleted in eastern and southern Africa. Given an urgent need for population recovery, especially in West and central Africa, this paper discusses the possibilities for using reintroduction to re-establish wild dog populations. Reintroduction is probably now technically possible, as long as release groups include wild-caught animals; several past attempts failed because captive-reared animals lacked skills needed to survive in the wild. However, reintroduction has only a limited role to play in wild dog conservation. ideally, it should involve animals of the appropriate local genotype. Limited genetic data indicate that wild dogs from West and central Africa may be distinct from those in eastern and southern Africa. Because there are no wild dogs with West or central African genotypes in captivity, and no wild populations in the region large enough to be harvested for translocation, future reintroductions might have to use animals with non-native genotypes. In addition, there appear to be no suitable sites for wild dog reintroduction in West or central Africa, and few in eastern and southern Africa. Releases currently planned in the Republic of South Africa will be locally valuable, but will not establish a population likely to remain viable without intensive management in perpetuity. For these reasons, protecting remaining wild dog populations currently represents a better investment than any attempt at reintroduction

Topics: SF, QH301
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