Unfortunately, we received a report a three days ago that one of our wild dog pups had drowned in a water trough on a neighbouring property. It turned out to be one of the female beta litter pups from Splinters Pack. This is one of the rarer ‘causes of death’ recorded for pups in Save Valley Conservancy, with the majority of pups losing their lives to lion predation.
Dead female pup from Splinters Pack.
A count of previous major causes of pup mortality.
Wild dogs absolutely love to play in and rest near water, especially during the hotter months of the year! Sadly, Splinters Pack’s recent activity around water had an unfortunate ending. It is hard to imagine what happened; perhaps the pups were playing and jumped up onto the wall of the trough and this pup fell in and just could not get out? The pack was still standing around when the pup was found. Wild dogs have extremely strong social bonds and will often return to a dead pack member’s body for up to two days after their death.
Fortunately, the pack was sighted a few days later, again resting near a pan, and still with a very good number of pups remaining! So far we have 68% pup survival in the conservancy, let’s hope the pups continue to do well during the upcoming rainy season!
Wild dogs love to play in and rest near water.
Some of the remaining pups gathered under the shade of a tree.
It is hard to believe we are already half way through the New Year. Although slightly daunting, it does mean one thing… denning season has arrived! Perhaps one of the best times of the year for the AWCF field team, and all of you, who are able to share in every moment with us thanks to our generously donated trail cameras which unobtrusively capture some incredible moments of our denning African wild dogs.
Denning season is well underway and our scouts have worked flat out to locate the dens of eight of our 11 focal packs in Savé Valley Conservancy, and are hot on the heels of the others! Mapura pack has stayed loyal to Chishakwe, and even though their den is in an awkward location for viewing, they are frequently sighted hunting on the airstrip. Splinters pups emerged a month ago totaling 13 in number, and Batanai pack seem to have close to 10 or 11 pups (an accurate count still needs to be obtained). The rest of the packs’ pups are due to emerge shortly, so keep an eye on our Facebook page for regular updates and plenty of photos! Not only do we get to see what mischievous behaviour the newly born pups are getting up to, but we are able to collect valuable monitoring data (number of pups at first emergence, ID shots, adult counts, pick up dogs with snares on etc.) and see who is coming and going at the den site. Some are welcome visitors and others are not… We cannot wait to see what the rest of the denning season has in store for us, and we are sure you can’t either! Remembering that a successful denning season, and good pup survival, is key to maintaining a viable and stable population of wild dogs in Save Valley Conservancy. The wild dogs definitely seem excited about it all…
Rosemary is currently away at a wildlife conference in South Africa so I have taken over the reigns so to speak. You will have to forgive me because I am new to this whole blogging thing, so we’ll have to be patient and take baby steps.
I thought for my first blog I would give you a little insight into the life of a field conservationist….. As you know I live in the African bush and with it comes the many delights or ‘not such’ delights bush life can bring. Yesterday was one of those ‘not such’ delightful days whereby a few animals took it upon themselves to show their displeasure at me living in their territory.
I woke up yesterday morning and went outside with my cup of coffee to water the lawn. I was still half asleep and sauntered over to the tap and turned it on only to find water gushing out of the hose pipe about half way down. On closer inspection I found that our resident porcupine had decided my hose pipe was a tasty treat and helped himself to a few mouthfuls. He obviously decided the first mouthful was not so tasty so spat it out and decided to try a few more, all to his dislike. So after nonchalantly puncturing several large holes in my hose pipe he decided to head off to the compost heap (his usual hunting ground) for a dig around.
Luckily the rest of the day proved to be fairly uneventful, unfortunately no sign of wild dogs but great sightings of some other species, including a huge herd of buffalo…
an elephant bull…
and even some white rhino with a young calf.
BUT….. After a nice day out the field I returned home to find the local troop of baboons had paid a visit and managed to sink their teeth into my workshop products. They had bitten open both the wood glue and wood oil bottles, so they were now both firmly stuck to my work bench and as if to add insult to injury, they then jumped on my girlfriend’s car and buckled the windscreen wipers, rendering them useless.
Anyway, all things considered these are rather trivial events that do add a bit of extra excitement to life, so we take them with a pinch of salt and a bunch of humour and continue on with the real job at hand.
I hope you had a slight chuckle at my minor misfortunes and enjoyed a little insight into my daily life. I thought I would change the tone slightly with this blog but will follow up with a real update in the coming days. For those who haven’t yet, please go check out our Facebook page (I have just upgraded it to the fancy timeline page), please ‘like’ it and ‘share’ it. Thank you all for following and as always, we really appreciate your support.
Cheers for now,