Johannesburg – A pack of 14 endangered African wild dogs was reintroduced into the Tembe Elephant Park, KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) said.

“The release of this wild dog pack into the Tembe Elephant Park is vital to the survival of South Africa’s managed wild dog metapopulation,” said the EWT’s Kelly Marnewick.

“It’s incredible to finally see them stepping into the wild and we are all holding thumbs that they will do well.”

Marnewick said there was extensive community liaison and preparation work over the past year.

“It was an emotional occasion, as many people present have been involved in this project from the very beginning and are deeply aware of the extreme importance of this release.”

The formal wild dog metapopulation programme was initiated in 1998 to expand the species’ range throughout South Africa. Tembe will be the 12th reserve to receive wild dogs as part of the programme.

In December 2009 four male wild dogs from the then De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Trust were relocated to Tembe Elephant Park and accommodated in a boma, with the intention of later reintroducing them into the reserve.

In February 2010 three females from Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park joined them. The pack produced seven pups while communities in the area were prepared for their release.

– SAPA

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