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A bio-boundary project by Wild Entrust that aims to aid human-wild dog-human co-existence by preventing predators from entering farm lands in some parts of Ngamiland is on the cards.
Research for the project is currently underway in Habu, Tsau and the Okavango areas where predators are abundant and increased human-predator conflict which threatens the wild dog species is also prevalent.
Through the project, the NGO create artificial urine and feaces of wild dogs and place them along the wild life management fence to keep the animals away.
According to co-founder and director of the NGO, Weldon Mcnutt, the wild dogs usually go in packs and are territorial, so the artificial urine and faeces will help deter the animals from entering the area fearing that the territory has already been occupied by other wild dogs.
Mcnutt explained that the urine and faeces will transmit chemical signals that keep packs from trespassing the fences.
“The concept was developed after we learned that wild dogs travel in packs and often avoid trespassing on one another’s home ranges hence the artificial urine and faeces will be placed between wildlife and communal boundaries to deter the dogs from entering farmlands,” he stressed.
Mcnut reiterated that the bio boundary project help preserve the threatened predator species.
“The biggest threat which wild dogs face is that when they stray into farmlands or areas close to human settlement, they kill livestock and then get targeted by farmers in retaliation, sometimes they get caught in wire snares,” Mcnutt said.
Through the initiative Mcnutt said wild dogs will be naturally being kept away from human settlements without having to construct wildlife management fences which elephants often take down and consequently serve no purpose in deterring predators such as wild dogs.
Mcnutt indicated that the artificial marking sites will give conservationists a new tool to help keep wild dogs safely away from human activity hence influencing human-wild dog co-existence.
He said there is need to conserve predator species as they play an important role in the ecosystem within wildlife management areas, citing that the loss of predators may lead to cycles of disease in their prey, overgrazing, desertification, and diminished species diversity.
Wild entrust is an umbrella Non-Governmental Organization that supports sustainable conservation and management through applied science, education and sustainable development. It has become Botswana’s umbrella program for large-predator conservation research, including the spotted hyena, leopard, lion, and cheetah.