Tag Archives: African Wild Dogs

Collared wild dog snared in Gonarezhou National Park

Hi folks,

I’m sad to report that we recently found the carcass of one of our collared wild dogs in Gonarezhou National Park.  The young male was called Mowgli and was part of the Machaniwa pack.  It was clear when his carcass was recovered that he had died of a snare wound – the wire was still attached to the neck bones of the carcass.


It’s the second collared dog we have found snared within a couple of kms of the Mozambique boundary, illustrating the potentially significant anthropogenic mortality these dogs are facing in this area.  Obviously we are only finding the carcasses of collared ones, because of the collar signal, but there is little doubt that other individuals are also being killed as well.


The Machaniwa Pack was 7 adults and 7 pups in August last year.  By December, there were only 12.  The same day we found the carcass, we also saw some members of the pack – but only five.  We are hoping this was just a temporary break-away group (it was only last years pups), but otherwise it’s very concerning news for the pack.

Unfortunately, Mowgli was the only collared dog in the pack and so now we face the challenge of fitting another collar to the pack, so we can keep a track of them, and understand more about the threats they face.  Unfortunately that is no small task in that huge, wild area…


New pack of endangered African wild dogs forms in Zimbabwe’s Save Valley Conservancy

Exciting news!!

We have confirmed the formation of a new pack of wild dogs!!

Admittedly it’s a very small pack – only two dogs at the moment – but every pack has to start somewhere, and we are thrilled by the discovery.

We became aware of the new pack last week, after Rueben managed to get photos of the dogs.  On looking at the photos, I knew immediately that I recognized both dogs but it took me a few minutes to confirm which ones they were.

These are the pictures Rueben took:

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Even though the only photos of the female were sitting down in water, I was able to identify her as Mushroom, a female that was born in 2008 and has since been a member of three different packs, the last being the Pita Pack which she founded with two of her sisters.  She’s clearly decided it’s now her turn to breed!!

The male is from the Nyarushanga Pack, where he was the beta male in 2011.

We’ve called the pack Nzungu, which means ‘nut’ in Shona (don’t ask!) and look forward to following their progress as the denning season approaches.

Here’s the pack’s new (blissfully simple!) identikit:

Nzungu Pack

We hope to see many more new packs forming over the next month or two.  I’ll keep you posted,


Fitting a new tracking collar to an endangered African wild dog

Hi folks,

Obviously an important part of the conservation-research component of our holistic African wild dog conservation project is being able to locate the packs!  With home ranges up to 3,500 sq km, thick vegetation and tracks (footprints) obscured for much of the rainy season, the use of tracking collars is a vital tool.

Most of the packs in one of our focal study areas, the Save Valley Conservancy, are collared, but we aim to try and get at least two collars on each pack in case of death or disappearance of the collared dog, failure of the collar, or in case of dispersal of some of the pack.

Yesterday we had an opportunity to fit a second collar onto one of our study packs, known as the Splinters.  The dogs were very relaxed as the vehicle approached, and I darted an adult female with no trouble.

She jumped up as the dart hit, then moved off only a short distance before sitting down with two pack mates in the shade.  Slowly she succumbed to the effects of the drugs and drifted off to sleep, with the other dogs right there with her:


The pack stayed around:


And one of the youngsters even came over to investigate the dart:


The immobilization and collaring procedure went very well.  A pulse-oximeter recorded blood oxygen and heart rate which remained at good levels throughout.   Regular temperature checking and cooling with water, together with an ice pack (frozen bottle of water!) between the legs ensured she never became too hot.


We fitted the collar, took samples and measured physical characteristics and teeth.


It was a good experience for our attachment student Nobesuthu, who learned about all aspects of the collaring procedure.  Scouts Rueben and Misheck were there to lend a hand as well.


We administered the reversal, and she recovered well.



Just after we took this photo, the rest of the pack came back (they had been lying close by throughout) and they moved off together after an endearing display of re-bonding.

Back soon,


A lovely evening with a beautiful pack of African wild dogs

Hi folks,

I was lucky enough to have a chance to spend time with a pack of 21 African wild dogs the other day.  The Mapura pack is one of my favourite packs; they are all such beautiful dogs individually, and when they are all together it’s really a stunning sight.


We caught them the other day in that lovely African evening light and I just wanted to post a few photos to illustrate (just in case you were in any doubt!) the beauty of these endangered animals.

When we first caught up with the pack they were back-lit, with the light catching the grass:


Then we moved around them and had about 15 minutes of the lovely light:




As the sun started to go down, the dogs got a bit more active:




It was nice to see our collared female (Forax) looking so good.  She was the mother of the beta litter of pups in this pack, all eight of whom have survived to six months   Good job! Here she is with one of her pups.


And here are two male pups which are also from Forax’s litter – such striking markings on them both!


Eventually we left the pack to it and headed home.  What a lovely evening!  And a great reminder of why we are working so hard to conserve these animals for all future generations.



Wild dog antics

Hi folks,

A couple of days ago I went out with Rueben and attachment student Nobesuthu to look for the Mapura Pack.  We found them resting in a riverbed, and enjoyed an hour or so of just watching them do what dogs do;

Relaxing with a friend:


Pestering a friend who would really rather just be asleep:


Stretching after a long, tough day of sleeping:

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And having the all important ear-cleaning session:

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The whole pack was there and it was lovely to just spend time with them.  They are very entertaining animals!

Back soon,


Spot the wild dog

We are not having much luck with getting good photos of the wild dogs this month….

Not that we are complaining, because the rain is obviously incredibly valuable, but the thick vegetation and tall grass is certainly not helping our viewing!!

Can you even spot the dog in this photo?!


This one is cropped and zoomed in, so at least we can see a wild dog in the photo, but as to which one it is, it’s anyone’s guess!


It’s only when they pop out onto the road that there is a chance for a reasonable photo.  But you have to be in the right place at the right time!  (Fortunately, this pack was not far from my house on Chishakwe Ranch, so I could nip out and catch them as they left the thick bush to go hunting yesterday evening)

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Anyhow, despite the challenges of the vegetation, we are at least managing to get good counts of the packs and it’s encouraging to see that they are all pretty much the size they should be.  One pack has dropped five members, but instead of being bad news, I’m pretty sure they are a group of siblings who have dispersed to find new mates, and hopefully next time we see them, they’ll be half of a healthy new pack…!

AWCF scholarhsip students set for the year

Hi folks,

While I’ve been away, our community liaison officer, Victor, has been out and about visiting all our secondary school scholars to ensure that the schools have received the fees we paid, and to check up on how they are doing.

For last years scholars, the idea was to ensure that they are still happy and doing well and to ensure their fees and uniforms etc were all in order.  Our attachment student Nobesuthu went along as well, and between her and Victor they gave the students fantastic motivation for working hard and getting good grades throughout their school career.


Our new scholars were met for the first time and were given their predator scholarship certificates, which they were very proud of.  All seemed to be happy in their new schools and enthusiastic about the year ahead.


For some students, all the teachers turned out to witness the certificate being handed over, and for others, the big smile said it all!



We look forward to seeing how they do this year and to engaging them with some of AWCF’s activities, to include them in the team.  All of these students are from extremely poor families, and would not have been able to continue to secondary school without our support.  It’s very emotional to think that these bright students would be back in the villages and most probably married off in the next year or two, had they not been given this opportunity.


So thank you very much to all of you who have supported our project through this blog, or in other ways, and who have enabled this support to be given.  If anyone would like to help with the continued support of these students, please get in touch through a comment on the blog.  Donations can be made by clicking on this link.

Back soon,


Back after the break

Hi folks,

Sorry this blog has been quiet recently – I’ve been away visiting friends and family and also a bit ill.  Now back on track and back in the beautiful Save Valley Conservancy, which has turned lush and green in my absence.  The scouts have also had time off, but there has always been at least one of them here, keeping up with the wild dog monitoring, and by all accounts the dogs are doing well.  It’s that time of year again when the sibling groups disperse from natal packs and find other opposite sex dispersers to form new packs with.  So it’s very exciting and I’ll keep you posted with the new developments.


A very merry Christmas from the Zimbabwe Wild Dog Project

All of us at the Zimbabwe Wild Dog Project would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous start to the New Year.  Thank you for your support and interest in our work in 2012 and we hope you continue to enjoy this blog in 2013.

African wild dogs in Save Valley Conservancy – Quality time with the Batanai Pack

The Batanai pack is one of our best known packs.  They currently number 30 dogs, after a successful denning season with 100% survival of their June litter of 12 pups.

I spent a great few hours with them the other day, and just wanted to share a few photos with you.  The pups are at that very curious and playful stage, and it was a fantastic opportunity to just sit and observe them.

Some of the pups found me very interesting:

While the adults were generally happy just chilling out in the last rays of the sun:

Always alert and playful, the pups never allowed for a dull moment:

They are such characters!

Back soon,