Tag Archives: new wild dog pack

Formation of a new pack of endangered African wild dogs in the Save Valley Conservancy

Hi Folks,

I’m excited to announce that finally our three dispersing girls have found some males!  The three girls were originally from the Nyarushanga Pack, all born in 2010.  In April this year, we found they had dispersed from their pack and they’ve been wandering round the conservancy ever since.  Friends came round a couple of days ago with photos of a pack of seven dogs they had seen, and I was super excited when I had a look through them and realised that at least two of them were the dispersing girls.

This is Rocky; a very distinctive and beautiful female from the Nyarushanga three:

The question thus remained; who were the others….?  After a quick flick through our photographic database, I was able to match at least two of the other dogs; they are yearlings from the Disney Pack, both born last year.  We rarely see the Disney Pack; they are uncollared and have an annoying penchant for staying in thickets at the top of hills, so the best photos we had of these boys was from the camera traps at last year’s den.  Nonetheless, it was enough to ID them, as this pair of photos shows:

Birdman as a 4 week old pup in 2011:

Birdman in November 2012:

The other ID’s unfortunately aren’t so easy.  Between the three Nyarushanga girls, and the two Disney boys, it accounts for five dogs, so who are the other two?  Unfortunately the pack was was very curious when being photographed, which means most photos are of their fronts, not side shots which we use to ID them…

Eventually however, we got a side ID for the remaining two, and they seem to be unknown to us.  Bizarrely, one also appears to be a pup (on the right in the following picture) which is very odd.

It’s very unusual that a new pack will form with a pup, and also from more than two different groups of dogs.  The Disney males have no other living siblings and its not their parents, so the other two dogs are definitely unrelated again…. Interesting.

As we get better photos and more info, I will hopefully be able to solve the mystery, and will let you know.

For now, we have called the pack the Orongo Pack and look forward to following their progress in the lead up to next years denning season


Introducing the Crocodile Pack

Hi folks,

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.

wild dog carcass killed by a crocodile

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.

following the wild dog tracks up and out of the riverbed

Following the wild dog tracks up and out of the riverbed

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. 

Twinspot - Crocodile Pack - last seen in 2009 as a yearling in the Mapari Pack

Twinspot - Crocodile Pack - last seen in 2009 as a yearling in the Mapari Pack

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.

Back soon,