A few days ago I was told about a pack of dogs resting by a waterhole. When I went there, standing at the waterhole next to the wild dogs was a white rhino bull! Not bad to have two such special and threatened species together in one place!
The pack turned out to be the Bedford Splinter Group – or at least some of them…. The two collared females were there (and we successfully downloaded the GPS collar), but it was only the five females that were there. The two males, and the one pup that was last seen in January, were not with the group. It’s possible that the males have split off and gone in search of new females as is happening in several of our other packs, but it’s not that likely because this was already a new pack formed – only formed last year.
Unfortunately neither of the males were collared so it’s going to be tricky to establish what happened to them, but we’ll be keeping a look out for them, and hoping that they have just split off from the group rather than being killed.
Denning season is coming to an end, but the work doesn’t stop. A very important part of our research is being able to download data from the collars to show where a dog (and therefore generally the whole pack) has been moving. In order to download these collars, the scouts must first find the dogs, and then we must try and get as close to them as possible in order to download onto a small laptop using a receiver. This often proves quite difficult in itself as they often reside in thick bush which we have to walk through to reach them, and they will often smell or see us and run away. The other difficulty is that the collars are programmed to only be downloadable at certain times of the day. Strictly speaking this should make it easier, as they are programmed to download when the dogs should be resting, but as with all things this is not always the case! Also, we sometimes get reports of the dogs resting somewhere or by a kill and manage to get very close to them, but unfortunately cannot download the data as it is the wrong time of day! It can get very frustrating!
Patch from the Bedford Splinter group with the downloadable collar
A few days ago we got a report from another ranch of a pack of nine dogs which had stolen a bait. We raced over there and managed to get a good view of the pack for about an hour. We confirmed it was the Bedford Splinter group who have a dog with a downloadable collar. It would have been the perfect situation to download the collar as they were far more interested in eating than worrying about us and we were reasonably close to them. Unfortunately it was the wrong time of day! Despite this, we still managed to account for all the dogs and ID them all. Mushroom, a female who has had a snare around her neck for some months now, is still alive and seems to be doing very well. In the past we have tried to dart her but with no success, and now the snare is probably very ingrown and doesn’t seem to be life threatening so we may just leave her. This pack formed about three months ago but have not denned this year.
Noticing the car
Looking nice and fat after a big meal
Mushroom (snared dog with lots of white) looking healthy
8 of the 9 dogs
Until next time,