I have some very exciting news. We have found a new pack of wild dogs in the Save Valley Conservancy! We’ve been seeing spoor for a while now of a pack of six dogs in a certain area, but the grass is so long at this time of year that tracking uncollared packs when they move off road is very difficult. But yesterday we got a lucky break and Rueben managed to find the pack resting by a water point.
Unfortunately – the event that led him to finding the dogs was the find of a carcass of one pack member which had been killed by a crocodile! The rest of the dogs had been back to the area to find their missing pack mate, and we could follow their tracks along the riverbed from there.
Mind you, it wasn’t that easy to follow them once they left the river and headed up the steep bank into the thick riverine vegetation, but Rueben’s awesome tracking skills eventually paid off.
When we eventually saw them, I realised they were dogs that I didnt immediately recognise although one looked a little bit familiar. We took photos and looking through all our records back in the office I discovered that these are a mixture of one indiviudal from Mapari pack (a male known as Twinspot, born in 2008), two individuals from the Mapari pack 2009 litter, one individual from Nyarushanga pack (born in 2008) and one unknown dog.
Aside from Twinspot, the other three I have had no records of since they were pups, photographed by the camera traps at the den! Another example of the value of digital cameras and camera traps. It was very exciting to find the photographic matches – it really gives us great data on dispersal, individual ages, pack formation, individual survivorship etc.
So we named the pack the Crocodile Pack and it is currently 5 adults. I suspect it is quite a newly formed pack and we hope they will breed this year.