Misheck, one of the scouts, recently found a new den on Chishakwe; it is a small cave on the side of a kopje (a rocky hill). This is the first den we’ve found this year on this ranch we’re based on, so it was very exciting!
Originally we suspected this den belonged to a new pack of between 3 and 5 dogs who have been spotted frequently on Chishakwe and around the neighbouring ranches. Misheck was lucky enough to see 1 pup and estimated it to be nearly 2 months old already, so we assumed they had been denning for a while undetected.
A few days later, however, reports were coming in of 10 dogs closeby to Chishakwe headquarters and sightings of a similar number of dogs close to the new den. At the same time, we visited the Star pack den again (denning on the large kopje outside the conservancy) and realised that they had left that den about 2 days earlier. Everything seemed to point towards the new den on Chishakwe belonging to the Star pack (this would be their second den). In past years the Star pack have frequently chosen to den on Chishakwe, and they also seem to favour kopjes. The pup Misheck saw and the Star pack pups also seem to be of a similar age.
However, despite all this, we are still not entirely sure! Camera traps only show a couple of photos, and there are only ever 2 pups present. Rosemary also managed to take a photo of the pups in the hole, but again, there are only 2. If this is the Star pack, they have gone from 11 pups to 2, so we sincerly hope that is not the case!
Photo from camera trap showing 1 pup and another inside the hole
Photo taken by Rosemary showing only 2 pups in the hole
Even more mysterious is the fact that none of the camera traps have shown any adult dogs. Either the camera traps are not placed where the adults move, or there are no adults!! The latter is highly unlikely, but perhaps it is a small pack with very few adults, and we have just been very unlucky with placing the camera traps. The Star pack had 12 adults at last count, so if it is this pack, we would expect to see some adults on the camera traps.
All in all, we are still very perplexed! We’ll be making frequent visits to this new den, hoping to see some dogs which will help identify the pack, and to keep checking the camera traps. We’ll keep you posted!