This is a sad and slightly gory post, so those of you with sensitive stomachs dont look too closely at the photos.
A few days ago I got a radio call from Rueben to say he had found one of our collared wild dogs in a very bad way. The message was that he was by himself and had been badly bitten. I went off to meet Rueben and, together with a colleague of mine, we went to have a look at the dog. The story from the tracks suggested that he might have been attacked by hyenas, but we can’t be certain of that.
In any case, the wounds looked pretty nasty and although the animal was able to walk, he was clearly in poor condition and struggling. The tracks of the rest of the pack were a long way off, and from his condition it looked like he had been alone for a day or two without being fed, so we did not think that the other dogs would be coming back. Even if they had, his injuries looked too bad to risk leaving.
Luckily, because of the collar, we were able to pick up on this, and now we just had to decide what to do.
I made the decision to dart him and see if we could do anything for him. I ended up doing this from the motorbike, because, despite his poor condition, he was still able to stay out of darting range from the vehicle. A cursory examination of his condition and the injuries once he was anesthetized indicated that we could not do much in the field, but that perhaps a vet could save him. So, together with a colleague, we loaded him into a straw-filled cage and set off for the 2.5 hour journey to the nearest vet.
Here I am preparing the cage for his safe transportation.
Very sadly, after a very thorough examination, the vet made the decision to put him down. I guess it was the right decision though, and at least he was put out of his misery rather than suffering a slow, painful, loney and frightening death by himself in the bush.
The rest of the pack was now un-collared, and one adult down, but luckily a few days later I managed to re-collar the pack so we can keep track of them again, and keep an eye out for any further injuries in future. Luckily, in this case, the rest of the pack was fine and none of the other dogs showed any sign of a fight or injury.