Category Archives: Denning

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Splinter Pack’s second litter

Hi folks,

The pack of African wild dogs we call the Splinter Pack surprised us earlier this year by producing a second litter of pups, just as the first litter were ready to leave the den.  The pack only has two adult females and one adult male – the rest were yearlings – so it was even more surprising to see the subordinate female breeding.

The alpha female had 12 pups and the beta litter was seven.  Sadly, I didnt get too much time to spend at the den watching them, but from the camera trap photos it is obvious that the alpha pups found their younger siblings something of a curiosity.

It’s not often that these second litters survive too well, but usually it’s because the alpha female either kills them in the den, or does not allow the beta female to den long enough to give the pups a chance in life.  In this case, the pups were allowed to remain at their own den until they were 3 months old, the usual age for pups to leave the den.  So far however, it looks like only 4 of the 7 have survived, but we dont know what happened to the other three.  We’ve only counted once though, since they left the den, so I’m hoping the others were just hiding at the time!

Just for fun, here’s a photo of them enjoying the rain – not!

Will keep you updated with how they do.


Batanai Pack – Activity behind the scenes

Have a look at some of these photos captured by our camera traps at the den of the Batanai pack – lots of activity and interesting behavior going on.  Oh to be a fly on the wall!  There are just pups and dogs everywhere!

There were 12 pups in this pack until recently, but when I went to the den this morning, we only saw 7.  There is no evidence on the camera traps that anything happened to them, and the rest of the pups and all the adults were there and behaving as normal.  So I’m hoping next time I go all the pups will be there, but I’m not convinced…  I’ll let you know,



Adventures in Gonarezhou

Hi Folks,

As you know I am briefly back from a few months of fieldwork in the stunning but wild Gonarezhou National Park.

We were doing the annual carnivore spoor survey as well as looking for wild dog tracks that might lead us to finding a pack, or better yet a den site.  Some of the roads were a little tricky to navigate… but we got through in the end:

We found ourselves in some beautiful places along the way – this is one of my favorite views in the park.  It also made a good lunch spot and a great place to track from!

We were fortunate enough to see quite a lot of wildlife in the park, including many, many elephant herds, zebras, giraffes, eland, jackals, ostrich, buffalo, impala, wildebeest, one leopard and  three porcupines!  And of course an abundance of incredible bird life.

I love porcupines, so it was a real treat to see them in the day;

We didn’t pick up as many lion tracks as we would have hoped, although we did hear them on a couple of nights, and it seems their population may not be picking up as much as we thought.  Hyenas we heard every night – that’s one species that certainly seems to be doing well in the park!  Especially from this campsite, where they were all around us from evening until morning.

And of course the wild dogs… we still have a way to go to fully understand what the park’s population is, but signs are encouraging.  We found tracks throughout the area we were working in, and plenty of signs of successfully breeding packs.  Hopefully over the next few months we will be able to establish whether these dogs are in fact linked with the population in Kruger National Park as well.

Back soon,


Lions at the den!

A few weeks ago when we went to the Crocodile pack den we saw lion tracks there.  We checked the cameras and sure enough, we saw that a pair of lions had been to visit.  First though, there were a bunch of great pictures of the pups, playing and lazing around the entrance to their den:

Photos from the infra-red camera trap them showed what I always dread seeing…. lions – and right at the entrance to the den:

Fortunately however, a few hours later, pictures from the same camera showed all nine pups alive and well.  Whew!  Here they are being suckled by mom.

The following week they were all still at the den, none the worse for wear from the lions visit

Back soon,


Three legged and snared dogs doing well

Hi folks,

Those of you who have been following this blog will know that in March we had a couple of wild dogs from the Splinters pack which ran through a snare line.  One of them had the wire tied tight round his neck, and suffered an horrific injury, but fortunately we managed to dart him and remove it.  I’m glad to say that he is doing well, showing no negative repercussions from his injury.

The other one had only three legs, after chewing his leg off to get out of the snare.  Amazingly, he has made a fully recovery as well – the wound had healed cleanly and the dog is a fully useful member of the pack.

The pack is denning now – and have about 12 pups!  Both the snared and the three legged dog have been seen at the den, regurgitating meat for the pups after coming back from a successful hunt.  Amazing!  I’ll let you know if anything happens to either of them, but for now they are both fully recovered team players.



Adorable photos of wild dog pups

Hi folks,

I had an amazing morning at one of our wild dog dens this morning.  Got up at 4:30 am, and was at the den before 6:00, just as it was getting light.  It’s the den of the Batanai pack, who are our biggest and also most relaxed wild dog pack in the Save Valley Conservancy.

We spent a wonderful few hours with them, trying to figure out exactly how many adults there still are and how many pups in the new litter.  Here are some photos of the new pups, which must be about 4 weeks old now.  Unbelievably cute!

This little one was particularly brave and just too sweet!

The adults were also very active and playful for much of the morning, which was fun to watch.

Although this one was clearly tired out by babysitting duties!

Not surprising I guess, when this is what you have to cope with:

But nonetheless, she is a great auntie and kept a close eye on them most of the time:

Excitingly there are three (yes three!) lactating females in this pack, and the behavior of the beta female at least strongly suggests she also has a liter in the den which will hopefully emerge soon.  Not sure what the story is with the other one, but I’ll let you know if she starts showing signs of denning too.



Nyarushanga Pack Puppies

Hi folks,

As you know, we are well underway with the denning season, and I wanted to share these photos of the Nyarushanga pups with you.  There are two pregnant females in this pack – both will be first time mums – although only the alpha female has so far given birth.  She had only 3 pups,  but they are super cute…

The beta female should have her pups any day now, and they’ll be out – if the alpha allows them to survive – in about 3 weeks.

I’ll keep you posted,


The bold and the brave – African wild dog pups

I posted a few photos a while ago of the Mambira Pack pups.  The little guys are now about 6-7 weeks old and are getting quite brave….

The collared alpha female is looking fit and healthy and so far seems to be doing a great job of keeping her seven pups in line.

The dogs have recently moved dens, back to where they denned last year.  We’ve confirmed all four adults and at least 4 of the pups are still present and next time we check the camera traps we’ll hopefully find all 7 pups alive and well.

Back soon,


Python visits African wild dog den

Hi folks,

As you know, we try to always have camera traps at the wild dog dens in order to monitor what is going on from the time they first den down, to when they leave the den.  Usually, we get great information on which dogs are at the den, how many pups are in the litter when they first emerge, when they move or leave the dens and what else visits the den.

When the cameras were last checked at the Batanai Pack den however, we had a surprise – and not a good one – waiting for us.  We started to flick through the hundreds on photos on the card, and suddenly came across this:

Followed by this:

The first picture shows a python going into the den where the pups are, watched by a curious (and not very proactive!) wild dog… The second shows the python coming out of the den half an hour later (watched by the same, still somewhat non proactive wild dog), with a rather suspicious looking bulge near the front.

Unfortunately, the pups had not emerged prior to this incident, so we do not know how many were in the litter to start with.  The dogs left the den the following day, and we have yet to find them again, so we don’t know whether they are still denning (which would mean they still have at least some pups surviving) or whether they have abandoned denning altogether, which would mean the whole litter was killed.

As soon as we find them and get an update, I’ll let you know.  It’s certainly not the first time that pythons have killed wild dog pups in the dens but its the first time we’ve caught one in the act!