Efforts going to the dogs? Evaluating attempts to re-introduce endangered wild dogs in South Africa
Gusset M., Ryan SJ., Hofmeyr M., Van Dyk G., Davies-Mostert HT., Graf JA., Owen C., Szykman M., Macdonald DW., Monfort SL., Wildt DE., Maddock AH., Mills MGL., Slotow R., Somers MJ.
1. We evaluated one of the most extensive efforts to date to re-introduce an endangered species: attempts to establish an actively managed meta-population of African wild dogs Lycaon pictus in South Africa. 2. Using an information-theoretic approach, known-fate modelling in program mark was employed to estimate the survival of re-introduced wild dogs and their offspring, and to model covariate effects relative to survival. Multiple a priori hypotheses on correlates of re-introduction success were tested (collated from extensive individual experiences) using different re-introduction attempts as natural quasi experiments. 3. Survival analyses revealed that the determinants of re-introduction success can be reduced to two factors relevant for management, suggesting that wild dog re-introductions should be attempted with socially integrated animals that are released into securely fenced areas, unless measures are implemented to mitigate human-related mortalities outside protected areas. 4. Synthesis and application. This study illustrates that monitoring and evaluation of conservation efforts, complimented with expert knowledge, forms the foundation of informed decision-making to underpin management recommendations with scientific evidence, particularly if the proposed actions are controversial. © 2007 The Authors.