Rueben and I had an interesting afternoon yesterday. We went off to find the Batanai pack so that I could download the GPS collar and check the dogs for snares etc. There had been a lot of rain in the area however, and getting to the dogs was an adventure…
We eventually got to them (suffice to say the 4 wheel drive was sufficiently tested), and found them resting in some thick shade by a water pan.
We’d taken the doors off the URI once we were close to the dogs, to make it easier to see and photograph them but even so it was hard to see them in their thicket.
So I had to resort to crawling up to them on my stomach… Fortunately it was not too thorny, just a little wet and muddy!
The dogs closest to me were the pups – now 7 months old. They didn’t seem to mind me being there, and a few even came up to have a look. It’s an interesting experience being looked down on by a wild dog!
Eventually the adults got wind of me, and they moved off a short distance. Following them on foot gave us unusually good sightings (they normally run away when you approach on foot) and we were able to confirm that all 18 are still there (11 adults and 7 pups) and that there are no snares or serious injuries in the pack.
Well the wild dog denning season is almost at an end – we only have two packs left denning now. That makes this an important time of the year for monitoring pup survival to three months (the age at which they leave the dens). So we try hard to find all the packs and get a good count of adults and pups just when they leave the den.
We found the Batanai Pack yesterday, and I’m pleased to be able to report that all ten pups are still alive and well. We had camera traps up at their den from when they first denned down, and right from first emergence of the pups there were 10 pups in the litter. So, so far so good for that pack, and we hope they continue to keep their pups safe and sound as they grow up more.
Unfortunately, it seems as though two or three of the adults may be missing from the pack and at least two others are carrying snares. One of the snares looks to be quite loose and we are hoping it will come off on its own, but the other – unfortunately on a collared dog – is very tight and looks like a nasty wound. Fortunately the dog still looks in good condition – I suspect the snare is quite new – but obviously I will be prioritizing getting that snare (and collar) off over the next couple of days.
Well it’s that fascinating time of year again when the wild dog packs start to chop and change composition, as single sex sibling groups (usually) disperse to find new mates. We recently discovered that this has happened with the Bedford Pack and the Star Pack.
The other day Misheck found the signal of the Bedford Pack and when I got there to see them, the first dog I saw was the collared male from the Star Pack, Shreddy! It turned out that the pack was an entirely new pack, comprising 5 of the Bedford Pack females (including the collared female Twinspot) and 6 of the Star Pack males!!
Here is Twinspot (Bedford collared female) with Shreddy (Star pack collared male!)
Rueben and Misheck chose the name for this new pack and have named it Batanai Pack, which means ‘mixing’ in Shona. Here is one of the original Bedford Females we call Snowflakes.
It’s not yet clear who will be the alpha pair of this new pack, although the Star Pack alpha male is now in this Batanai Pack and his behaviour the other day certainly suggested he intended to retain the alpha-male status. The females are all youngsters – they have split off from their alpha female – so any of them could become the alpha. I’ll let you know!
It’s quite exciting when these new packs form and hopefully the forthcoming denning season will be a good one.
(I’m going to be away for a couple of weeks, so apologies in advance for the lack of new postings. I’ll write more as soon as I get back)