Wild Dog Research Project

Research Aims


We are conducting applied conservation research to:

  1. Assess the status of African wild dogs in Malawi
  2. Establish a long-term ecological study of wild dogs and competing carnivores in Malawi
  3. Determine the spatial and behavioural ecology of wild dogs in and around KNP
  4. Assess prey densities in KNP
  5. Identify predictors of carnivore distribution and abundance
  6. Examine relationships between co-predator activity rates to assess levels of intra-guild competition

Research Techniques

Camera Trapping

camera trapping We use remote camera traps to assess the distribution and relative occurance of carnviores. Traps are placed in the bush attached to a tree and record animals as they pass. Traps are set using a systematic approach to ensure good coverage of the study area.Tracking changes in the density of competing predator populations is vital to the effective conservation of wild dogs, as wild dogs are particularly sensitive to intra-guild competition (Gorman et al. 1998).

call in

Audio Playbacks

We conduct standardised acoustic playbacks (Mills et al. 2001) to census carnivores in the study areas. During playbacks large mammal distress calls and wild dog social calls are emitted from a large speaker placed on the roof of a vehicle to attract carnivores which are then counted.


Large Mammal Transect Surveys

Standardised road transects are conducted throughout the study area during the daytime to assess the density and distribution of large mammal prey (impala, waterbuck etc). Five kilometre transects are driven systematically and all large mammal species are recorded. Prey densities are calculated using distance sampling (Buckland et al. 1993). This will allow us to assess whether prey is abundant or scarce, as this will affect the long-term viability of KNP for carnivores, and will be used to inform management practices in the park. This is fundamental ecological information needed to inform species conservation, habitat, and park management for the benefit of African wild dogs, and the wider ecosystem.


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