As you’ll have seen from the last post, all but two pups of the Mavericks pack recently died of rabies. We had been feeding the pack for a few days after all the adults except the alpha female had died, but then the alpha female started to show the same signs as the other adults and we knew the time had come to try and capture and save the last two pups.
With the help of wildlife filmmaker Kim Wolhuter (currently making a film on wild dogs in neighboring Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve), we managed to successfully dig the two pups out of their den and get them safely into a transport crate. This in itself was quite a mission… the den was in a large anthill with a lot of sand to be moved and several tunnels inside, any of which the pups could be down.
Five hours of hard digging later we eventually found them and managed to get them into a mesh trap we had made in order to avoid handling them due to the possibility of rabies.
After the rabies diagnosis had come through, we had contacted the Painted Dog Conservation Project up in Hwange who have a clinic and rehabilitation facility specifically to cater for all situations pertinent to Painted dog conservation in Zimbabwe. They also have the option of quarantining the pups until we can be sure they are not infectious with the rabies virus, and there was no doubt this would be the best place for the pups. PDC agreed to take them and so once they were safely loaded in their transport crate, we set off for the 8 hour drive up to Hwange.
We arrived at the Painted Dog Conservation HQ just before midnight, but despite the lateness of the hour, we were greeted with extreme professionalism and efficiency, and the pups were soon offloaded into their new temporary home. We went back to check on them early the following morning and found them both looking healthy, and very excited by the presence of other adult dogs nearby, and especially one female who seemed to immediately assume the role of foster mum – albeit through a double layer of wire mesh to avoid transmission of infection!
So we have left them in the care of PDC, and are keeping fingers and toes crossed that they have not been infected with rabies and will pull through. If they do, they will be cared for at PDC until they are old enough to be released, at which stage they will be teamed up with some other dogs ready for release. They will then be put through a pre-release program where they learn to bond as a pack and hunt properly, after which they will be released again in to the wild.
I will keep you informed of their progress. In the meantime, if anyone would like to contribute to the cost of their care, please donate through this site and write a comment saying what the donation is for and I will ensure PDC get the funds. I will post a list of specific urgent needs shortly.