Arusha — Researchers and conservationists are baffled by the death of 22 rare wild dogs believed to have been poisoned by unknown people in the remote Kakesio escarpments within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
The Acting Head of the Kakesio Zone's Ranger Post, Mr Martin Lomaiyan Ole Pose, said the carcasses of the recently died, wild dogs were discovered by locals at the Ubuntu Valley, but shortly afterwards, hyenas fed on them, leaving no trace.
"Ubuntu is a favourite site for wild dogs; this is their breeding point and also the place where gazelles and impalas frequent, thus making it easy for them to hunt," explained Mr Ole Pose.
Kakesio is right at the borderline separating Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Maswa Game Reserve and the two, together with Loliondo, Serengeti and Kenya's Maasai Mara, form the vast Serengeti ecosystem.
The Principal Researcher at the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI), Dr Ernest Mjingo, said the killed animals were part of the 'Osinoni' pack, which is among the four clusters of the canines recently released from the Serengeti plains.
"The Osinon pack comprised 15 wild dogs, among them eight adults and seven cubs. We found four carcasses of adults; the rest seem to be missing and if they had consumed the same poisoned meat chances are they could also be dead," said Dr Mjingo.
However, last weekend, four adults were spotted near the area before disappearing; "which means it is only the seven cubs that have melted into thin air so far bringing the total number of the dogs feared to be dead reaching 11," according to the researcher.
But four months ago, seven other wild dogs, a mother and six cubs were found dead from poisoning and at the end of last year, 11 other canines got killed, bringing the total number of the dead foxes to 22 so far.