Botswana Wild Dog Research Project
Founded in 1989, the Botswana Wild Dog Research Project is the longest running large predator research project in Botswana and one of only a handful of its caliber worldwide. Its continuous field-based research was originally designed to provide information on the behavioral ecology of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus), Africa’s most endangered large carnivore. Research includes habitat requirements, prey species preference, prey density, dispersal patterns, reproduction patterns, and population health. The project has since evolved into an umbrella program for large predator research focusing on the effectiveness of natural resource management systems and the promotion of the management of free ranging predators.
The project was started by Dr J. Weldon “Tico” McNutt as part of his doctorate in Animal Behavior in 1989. At the time, there was virtually no information on African wild dogs from anywhere outside the Serengeti Plains. The social and community research interests of Lesley Boggs complemented this pure science inquiry when she joined the project in 1992.
“The African wild dog is Africa’s most endangered large carnivore. BPCP’s research on wild dogs has made it abundantly clear that the health and welfare of not just the wild dog population but the entire predator population is a key indication of health of the ecosystem. Our project has evolved into an ongoing program of applied research and conservation focusing on the entire large predator guild."
Tico McNutt, Director, BPCP
Today, the Botswana Wild Dog Research Project is the standard to which most other wild dog projects are based, including programs in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Kenya, and South Africa. Most of these projects actively collaborate through the Wild Dog Working Group (a subgroup of the Canid Specialist Group) for which Dr. McNutt is the coordinator. Most of the researchers in these other projects have visited the Botswana Wild Dog Research Project and continue to collaborate through regular working group communications and meetings.