Tag Archives: collaring

A Leader is Lost

A few weeks ago we found the collar of the very old alpha male of Mapura Pack, Nyoka. We never found his carcass, so we do not know what happened to him, but he has not been seen with his pack for three weeks suggesting he died. Nyoka was 8 years old, and bite marks across the top of the collar indicate he was probably killed by lions.

Nyoka, a fearless leader

Nyoka, a fearless leader


For the past few weeks the pack has been moving around uncollared, and seeing as they like to venture outside of the conservancy, this situation was less than ideal. Fortunately, we received a report of the dogs resting at a water point yesterday afternoon, and due to the incredible heat at the moment, the pack hadn’t moved at all when we got there.

We managed to dart a young male (who will be called Dirk after the water point we found the pack at!) and fitted him with a satellite collar. We will now be able to keep a better watch of the pack and make sure they come to no harm.


Dirk immobilised with plenty of ice packs to keep cool!


Rosemary Groom and Jess Watermeyer relieved with a successful collaring.


Collaring opportunities are a great hands-on learning experience for our local attachment students!


We are sad to see the end of Nyoka’s reign, but wait with anticipation to see how new pack dynamics will unfold as this year’s denning season approaches. Who will step forward and lead the pack alongside the alpha female, Ursula?

Mapura Pack

Mapura Pack


P.S. Some of you may remember that Scarlet (the young female who was so badly injured by lions last year) is part of this pack. We are happy to report she is doing well and still with the pack!

Wild dog Collared in Save Valley Conservancy

Hi there,

We have been rather quiet of late, things are slowly calming down as the denning season draws to close. However, wild dogs rarely sit still for too long thus neither can we! A few weeks ago we collared one of our female wild dogs, always an exhilarating experience and an opportunity to become even more familiar with the animals.


Cain, our scout, radioed and said he had the Batanai pack visual. Now if you remember, Shreddy who recently died of a snare was part of the Batanai pack. Around the same time we found Shreddy dead the pack had moved from their den and thereafter our scouts had a hard time finding them. Shreddy was one of two collared males in the pack. It had been almost three weeks since we had received any report of this pack, so naturally we were all very excited when we heard that Cain had found the pack resting under a large baobab. Rosemary decided this would be a good opportunity to try and collar another individual in this pack. Rosemary darts off the back of the scouts’ bikes. The dogs are relaxed to the sound of the scouts’ bikes enabling Rosemary to get nice and close for efficient darting.


The dog we collared is called CC (named so after two marks on her back right leg that look like two C’s next to eachother). We fitted the collar and took a small piece of ear and blood samples for genetics. We stayed with her until she was fully recovered and Cain found her the next day back with the pack and doing well! Collars are not only a way for us to locate and keep track of our packs, but GPS and Satelite collars enable us to gather information on home ranges and better understand how the packs in Save Valley Conservancy utilise the available space. Further, data from wild dog GPS collars can be used to locate snare lines (after noticing snare wounds on the wild dogs).

Thats all for now, but it is an interesting time in the conservancy, we tentatively watch how the pups fair after the denning season and how pack dynamics may change. More soon!



Mapari pack back on the radar!

Dear friends,

Third time lucky! After 3 days’ worth of attempts, we were finally successful, yesterday, in installing a collar on a member of the Mapari Pack, a male Wild Dog called Darkie. Since Sandy’s sad death by snaring just over a month ago, we have had very little information about the Mapari Pack, as there has been no radio-collared individual in the pack to help us locate and study them.

Around 1st December, a pack of Wild Dogs was spotted quite close to our research base. They were resting in the shade by a water-hole in the heat of the day, and stayed there long enough for us to receive the message and reach that location. It turned out to be the Mapari Pack, travelling unusually far south, and that and subsequent sightings have been the best views we have had of the pack since the denning season, so we have in the last couple of days been able to build up a database of individual ID photographs for all the pups as well as the adults. It turns out that currently the Mapari Pack comprises a fascinating mixture of adults originating from the Star Pack, ‘Leon’s’ Pack, and the Sango Six-Pack within the last 6 months. This provides us with fascinating information about the mobility of Wild Dogs.

We were blessed to receive the assistance of the Tikki Hywood Trust who were generous enough to volunteer their time to help us with the darting when one of their licensed team members (Ellen Connelly) was down in the conservancy.  Without their generous donation of time and expertise, this darting would have been a lot harder to organise and we may have missed this valuable opportunity.  Trying to find un-collared packs in not easy!!

The Mapari Pack have been quite relaxed around our vehicle as we’ve approached them for darting attempts the last couple of days. We were able to get within the 25 metre darting range and shoot a dart at Darkie, who was in an appropriate position. He moved as soon as he heard the dart gun’s ‘pop!’ and so the dart hit him in the tail rather than the muscle of the back leg. However, somewhat to our surprise, he was staggering a few moments later and the immobilisation drugs soon took full effect, allowing us to install his collar, take hair and tissue and blood samples, and weigh and measure his body and teeth, all the while keeping his eyes covered with a blindfold and spraying him with cool water to prevent overheating.The rest of the pack moved off slowly as we approached the immobilized Darkie:

Immobilisation of an African Wild Dog, Zimbabwe

It was a busy scene with everyone helping as we did what was needed:

Collaring of an African wild dog

When he shook his head to shake off the water-droplets, we knew he was coming round from the ketamine—and in moments he had leapt up and run away, a very fast recovery. For a couple of minutes he was disoriented and looked dizzy, but he was soon able to move in a straight line and he moved around the water-hole looking for the rest of his pack. We left him lying in the shade near where the pack were when we found them.  He was reunited with the rest of his pack in a short time, as we returned to check on the pack a couple of hours later and found them all lying together, with Darkie, in the shade of a big baobab.

This morning Darkie was behaving normally, and with the aid of his new radio-collar, we were able to locate the Mapari Pack and watch him and the others playing and resting in the Msaize River.

Back soon,

Roy & Rosemary