Tag Archives: chishakwe

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:

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Pestering a friend who would really rather just be asleep:

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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,

Rosemary

School carnivore projects

Hi folks,

Towards the end of last term, we provided a couple of schools with some materials with which to do big carnivore projects.  This was on request from the teachers after they attended a teacher training workshop organized and hosted  by Chishakwe Ranch, last August.

Today I went to visit the schools to see how the projects had come along.  Whilst still incomplete, I was very pleased by the progress and the obvious effort the students and teachers had put in.  Here are some of the Grade 6 kids with their yet-to-be-completed projects.

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Both schools undertook the project with enthusiasm and the quality of their work was very good, largely thanks to the long-term efforts by Chishakwe with these particular two schools, Muvava and Uteki.

Back soon,

Rosemary

Dams bursting, rivers flooding and more rain on the way!

Hi folks,

This morning one of the big dams just upriver from us spilled…  It’s the first time I have seen this, and it’s a spectacular sight.  The sheer volume and power of the water is amazing.

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Unfortunately it does make getting around a little difficult now that river is flooding – this photo is where the main road is supposed to be!

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Anyhow, we will make a plan (anyone got a spare hovercraft?), but luckily yesterday we had a good day in the field and managed to catch up with both the Star Pack and the Bedford Splinter Group – and I’ll write a post about that soon.  Both packs have lost a couple of individuals since December, sadly, but the remaining dogs are fat and healthy and enjoying the abundance of water!

Looks like there is more rain on the way….

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Back soon,

Rosemary

Pack of five now down to four

Hi all,

I recently introduced you to a new pack of 5 dogs – 3 females from the Mapari pack and 2 males from the Teddy pack. A few days ago, early in the morning, we got a report of 4 dogs at an impala kill very near to where we are based on Chishakwe. They were in the Msaize river bed, so very exposed, and we were able to get some really good photos of them. Unfortunately there were definitely only 4 dogs there – 1 of the females was missing. I hoped that perhaps she may have been denning and therefore had stayed behind at the den whilst the others went hunting, but Misheck (one of the scouts) followed them that morning and there doesn’t appear to be a den or a fifth dog. It is unclear what has happened to the fifth female – perhaps she joined another pack or perhaps she died – we will wait to see if she reappears somewhere. The other 4 dogs all look healthy and were very playful, running around and playfighting in the river bed. It’s a joy to see young dogs really enjoying themselves!

Becky

2 males and 2 females resting by the river bed

2 males and 2 females resting by the river bed

Dogs at the impala kill

Dogs at the impala kill

Dogs playing

Dogs playing

Dogs playing

Dogs playing

Dogs playing

Dogs playing

Dogs playing

Dogs playing

Star pack pups all accounted for!

Hi all,

Good news. We have finally found the Star pack and managed to account for almost all of the dogs, along with at least 10 pups (there should be 11). The adults were moving a lot so were difficult to count and I only managed to photograph 7 of them (although I counted at least 9 – there should be 10). The pups look very healthy and full of energy bouncing around and showing great interest in the car. Their distinctive patterns are also really starting to show now so we will soon be able to photograph and ID them.

Aquarius (a male yearling)

Aquarius (a male yearling)

Forax (a female yearling)

Forax (a female yearling)

Big eared pup

Big eared pup

3 inquisitive little pups

3 inquisitive little pups

We found the dogs at the base of a kopje on Chishakwe ranch, very near to the mystery den (which is no longer in use), but I am still not convinced the den belonged to them. It seems very strange that only 2 pups were visible on the camera traps when clearly there are plenty more pups and a large number of adults. Hopefully the den belonged to another pack we have yet to catch up with, and it is just a coincidence the Star pack and this other pack have been moving in the same area. We’ll be trying very hard to find another pack with only 2 pups to solve this mystery once and for all!

Becky

Mystery den

Hi all,

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!

Mystery den

Mystery den

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 from camera trap showing 1 pup and another inside the hole

Photo taken by Rosemary showing only 2 pups in 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!

Becky

Education and wild dogs

Hello,

Helen here. I have been out visiting several primary schools which border onto the conservancy talking to teachers about the environmental education project. Although it is now the winter holidays, at each school I visited, several teachers met me to chat further. Many of the teachers had heard about the wild dogs and knew that they were endangered here in Zimbabwe. They were very keen to visit the conservancy themselves and see the wildlife here as well as hopefully see wild dogs, maybe at a den. It is great that the local schools and communities are so interested and enthusiastic in learning more about what goes on here.

 

Teachers from local primary school

Teachers from local primary school

Smiling school children

Smiling school children

The  school term starting in September is full of national exams so we shall hopefully start the programme properly next year with a teacher training workshop on environmental education here on Chishakwe. We are looking to initiate a long term programme of education and school visits which will benefit the people living close to the conservancy as well as wildlife such as the wild dog and rhino which live in Save Valley.

Helen

Conservation Education Programme

Hi everyone,

I thought it might be time to introduce myself. I’m Helen and I’m here with the Lowveld Wild Dog Project helping to establish a conservation education programme, in collaboration with Chishakwe Ranch and the Lowveld Rhino Trust.

Helen looking for tracks and signs at a water hole

Helen looking for tracks and signs at a water hole

We are mainly concentrating on educating people about the importance of maintaining biodiversity.  Chishakwe Ranch has been working in schools bordering the Save Valley Conservancy for several years now, and we will be parterning with them to expand their fantastic education efforts and to focus a bit on wild dogs, as there seems to be so many misconceptions about these beautiful creatures.

I have recently been to visit one of these schools with the Chishakwe managers, where I helped to judge a food-web poster project. The children were very excited and enthusiastic about leaning more about their surroundings and the natural world. The students who created the ten best posters will be coing to visit the conservancy in September for the day, and they will get to see wildlife up-close rather than just on paper.

One of the winners of the food-web poster project

One of the winners of the food-web poster project

At the moment there are many ideas for this education programme including a bush school and an education centre. During my time here I hope to help with the implementation of some of these ideas and establish a mutually beneficial relationship between local communities and the conservancy.

Helen