Tag Archives: wild dog collaring

Fitting a new tracking collar to an endangered African wild dog

Hi folks,

Obviously an important part of the conservation-research component of our holistic African wild dog conservation project is being able to locate the packs!  With home ranges up to 3,500 sq km, thick vegetation and tracks (footprints) obscured for much of the rainy season, the use of tracking collars is a vital tool.

Most of the packs in one of our focal study areas, the Save Valley Conservancy, are collared, but we aim to try and get at least two collars on each pack in case of death or disappearance of the collared dog, failure of the collar, or in case of dispersal of some of the pack.

Yesterday we had an opportunity to fit a second collar onto one of our study packs, known as the Splinters.  The dogs were very relaxed as the vehicle approached, and I darted an adult female with no trouble.

She jumped up as the dart hit, then moved off only a short distance before sitting down with two pack mates in the shade.  Slowly she succumbed to the effects of the drugs and drifted off to sleep, with the other dogs right there with her:

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The pack stayed around:

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And one of the youngsters even came over to investigate the dart:

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The immobilization and collaring procedure went very well.  A pulse-oximeter recorded blood oxygen and heart rate which remained at good levels throughout.   Regular temperature checking and cooling with water, together with an ice pack (frozen bottle of water!) between the legs ensured she never became too hot.

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We fitted the collar, took samples and measured physical characteristics and teeth.

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It was a good experience for our attachment student Nobesuthu, who learned about all aspects of the collaring procedure.  Scouts Rueben and Misheck were there to lend a hand as well.

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We administered the reversal, and she recovered well.

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Just after we took this photo, the rest of the pack came back (they had been lying close by throughout) and they moved off together after an endearing display of re-bonding.

Back soon,

Rosemary

Video: Collaring an African Wild Dog

Hi folks,

A couple of weeks ago, I joined up with Karen Paulilo of the Turgwe Hippo Trust, to see if I could show her two volunteers some wild dogs.  Life for me has been hectically busy recently so we had a window of half a day – Sunday afternoon – to find the dogs.  Luckily, Rueben managed to find the Batanai Pack resting by a water point on Bedford Ranch, so I met up with Karen and her two guests and off we went.

We were incredibly lucky, and had a very special time with the dogs.  We saw all 11 adults and 10 pups.  The pups – now about 4 months old – were not at all afraid of us, and spent a while checking us out and seeing who was brave enough to get closest!

The bravest pup of all

It was a hot day so – when they weren’t lying in the shade panting – we got to witness the pups playing in the water as well.

Pair of panting pups

Testing the water

Having recently removed our GPS collar from that pack, due to the collared dog having had a snare around it’s neck, I needed to fit another GPS collar on to the pack and had taken my darting stuff with me.

After we’d enjoyed watching the dogs for an hour or so, we pulled away so I could load some darts and prepare the dart gun, and then we went back and tried to get close enough to one of the adult male dogs to get a shot.  Eventually we did, and we fitted a GPS collar to the adult male, Comet.

Rosemary putting the collar on

Everything went well and Comet is fit and healthy (I just came back from seeing that pack) and collecting wonderfully useful information for us via his new collar.

Karen was taking a video of much of the afternoon.  You can have a look at it by clicking here, and it’s also up on the Turgwe Hippo Trust website which you can access by clicking here.  There are other great videos on that site too, so it’s worth checking out.

Volunteer Neve Wade with immobilised wild dog

Back soon,

Rosemary

PS – Thanks to volunteer Chris and Karen Paulilo for most of these photo

Successful re-collaring of a wild dog

Hi folks,

Just a quick post to let you know I successfully managed to dart and re-collar one of the wild dogs in the Bedford Splinter Group (‘Patch’) a few days ago.  The GPS collar that was on before was not working, so when Rueben found the dogs in a nice open area, easily accessible by vehicle, I took the opportunity to see if I could dart her to change the collar.

Rueben with Patch

Fortunately everything went well. The first dart hit with good placement and Patch went down comfortably in the shade.  The re-collaring went fine and she recovered well and joined up with the rest of the pack shortly afterwards.  Hopefully with this new collar on, we will get detailed information on the movements of this pack – all helping us to understand more about the dogs’ ecological requirements.

Rosemary with Patch

Back soon,

Rosemary

Lions at the Bedford pack den again… only 3 pups left

Hi guys,

It may be no surprise to tell you that the Bedford pack have moved dens again!!  This is their fourth den this year. The huge increase in the lion population seems to have really taken its toll on this pack. We hadn’t had much luck seeing either the adults or the pups at their third den, and unfortunately when we went last time it felt abandoned. When looking at the photos from the camera traps it was clear that they were visited by lions again. Tracks on the ground also confirmed this. Sadly, one of the photos clearly shows a lion with a pup in its mouth.

Lion tracks going into den hole

Lion tracks going into den hole

Lion tracks going into den hole

Lion tracks going into den hole

Lion tracks amongst wild dog tracks

Lion tracks amongst wild dog tracks

Lion with pup in its mouth

Lion with pup in its mouth

Fortunately though, they didn’t move far and since finding their fourth den and putting up camera traps, I can confirm that there are still three healthy pups left. This is a big loss for the pack as they originally had thirteen pups, but fingers crossed these three remaining will make it into adulthood. They are spending a lot of time outside the den, and are extremely energetic and lively!

Three remaining Bedford pups

Three remaining Bedford pups

We also managed to collar one of this pack (the previous collared dogs split to form a new group), and this should make it easier to track the dogs should they move dens again or stop denning altogether.

Fitting Twinspot with a GPS collar

Fitting Twinspot with a GPS collar

The other packs seem to have escaped the lions so far (touch wood!), this pack has just been extremely unfortunate.

Becky

Bedford Bachelors joined by a female!

The all-male group of 13 dogs that we nicknamed the Bedford Bachelors has been joined by a female!  When we saw them at the end of May – at the time we de-snared and collared Coco – the behaviour of some of the dogs indicated that there might be a female with them, but due to focussing on the immobilisation of Coco, I didn’t get a chance to investigate too closely.

Coco with his new collar

Coco with his new collar

However, when we saw the dogs again a couple of days ago, we confirmed that the pack is now 12 males (from the original Bedford Pack) and one female whom we don’t recognise.  The 13th male that used to be with the Bedford Bachelors has gone back to the breeding Bedford Pack.

Bedford Bachelors' new female pack mate

Bedford Bachelors' new female pack mate

It’s very interesting that a solitary female should join such a large group of males (brave lass!), but nonetheless it’s very exciting because it means that the pack might den this year… She is not yet showing any signs of pregnancy, but we are hoping she will do soon.

It appears that it is our newly desnared and collared dog Coco who is likely to be her mate – and thus the alpha male – if she does breed.  The pair of them are frequently together and interacting in a very alpha male/alpha female way…

New female (at the front) and Coco

New female (at the front) and Coco

I’ll let you know if/when we see any signs of pregnancy in this new female.

De-snaring another wild dog

Hi folks,

We found the Bedford Bachelors again yesterday – this time right in the south of the conservancy, where they continue their search for some eligible ladies.

The Bedford Bachelors - 31-05-10 - Photo by Lin Barrie

The Bedford Bachelors - 31-05-10 - Photo by Lin Barrie

Good friends of mine who were with me at the time, Lin Barrie and Clive Stockil, noticed a snare around one of the dogs necks. It’s not obvious, but in the photo below, it’s the dog on the left that has the snare.  If you look closely you can see the wire sticking up and in front of the dog.

Coco & Flint - Coco (left) has a loose snare round his neck

Coco & Flint - Coco (left) has a loose snare round his neck

Fortunately it was loose and had not caused any injury to the dog.  Nonetheless, it must have been irritating, and had the potential to pull tight and cause harm, so we decided to try and remove it.

We darted the dog successfully and removed the snare.

Coco with snare around his neck

Coco with snare around his neck

Clive, Rosemary & Rueben with Coco

Clive, Rosemary & Rueben with Coco - Photo by Lin Barrie

As there was no injury to the neck we took the opportunity to fit a lightweight VHF collar as well, to help us keep track of the pack in future.

New GPS collar fitted

Hi folks,

We managed to fit another GPS collar onto the pack of wild dogs that is denning at the moment.  We put it onto a large adult female named Patch, and the immobilisation and collar fitting went well.

Patch

Patch

It’s great to have that on, as we can now see where the dogs are hunting and we will be able to pick up any interactions with their old pack mates the Bedford bachelors if they ever return to the conservancy!

Rosemary taking Patch's teeth measurements

Rosemary taking Patch's teeth measurements

And just a couple of updates on issues in previous posts – the injured yearling female Mushroom has recovered from her injury and is looking fit and healthy again with no sign of the wound.

And the young Sable bull that we rescued from a snare on Sunday has rejoined his herd and is looking none the worse for wear for his ordeal.  Looks like we got there in time…