Tag Archives: wild dog dens

Lions vs Wild Dogs

Hi Folks,

I’m just back from another 3 week field stint in Gonarezhou which I will write about soon.  But I just wanted to post some of these photos of lions that were seen at the Mapura den on Chishakwe Ranch in Save Valley Conservancy a few weeks ago.  It was a pride of 7 lions, who visited the den a couple of times.  Here are some of the curious youngsters investigating the den hole where the pups sleep.

Fortunately all the pups survived, but one of the pack’s adult males (probably the alpha male) was unfortunately killed. He was found a couple of hundred meters from the den.

Nonetheless the pack seems to be holding together okay.  They have two litters of pups but are no longer den bound, so I’m not sure how the little ones will do.  Just hope they don’t meet these lions again any time soon!

Back soon,

Rosemary

 

Denning season underway!!!

Hi folks,

Just a very quick post to let you know that the wild dog denning season has started!  Rueben and Misheck have so far found the dens for three packs and we’ve put camera traps up.  I will post some photos in the next few days (I just dont have them on me right now).  Pups are out in two of the packs already which is so exciting.  Other packs yet to den down, so it’s going to be a long season overall.

Photos coming soon :).

Rosemary

Wild dog puppies!

Hi folks,

In amongst all the chaos of post-denning season, there is still one pack of dogs getting on with the important business of denning!  This is the Mapura Pack, which are denning on Chishakwe Ranch in the Save Valley Conservancy, not far from where I live.  They denned down quite late, and are nearly ready to leave the den, but for the moment, they are still there and the camera traps are giving us some great pics of the pups.

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MDGC0329-All 7 pups

There are 7 pups in total and 7 adults.  There were nine adults, but two were unfortunately killed by lions last month.  Nonetheless, the pack seem to be doing okay, and the pups are super-cute!

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Here is our collared female at the den as well…

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The pups are so big and bold now that they even spend nights away from the safety of the den – but not quite away from the safety of each other!  Bless!

A night time huddle of pups

Back soon,

Rosemary

Mambira Pack Puppies

Hi folks,

Despite countless visits by lions to their den site, the two pups of the Mambira pack are still alive and well.  We had a lovely sighting of the pack and especially of the pups the other day.

When we first showed up, the adults and pups were having a very excited greeting session.

Whole pack greeting each other

Once that was over, the pups scurried back to the den and the adults moved off into the nearby woodland to rest for the day.

Pups scurrying back to the den

But the pups didn’t stay in the den long – their curiosity got the better of them, and out they came to check us out and spent an hour or so playing on their den.

One of the pups

pup looking into hole

They are very cute, bold little fellows – both boys – and hopefully they will make it to adulthood and even breed themselves in a couple of years.  We could really do with that, because this is a small pack, and the only one in the south of the conservancy…

Fingers crossed for the little fellows when they leave their den any day now.

two pups

The Mambira Pack – pups just out

We went to the den of the Mambira pack a couple of weeks ago.  This is an un-collared pack and the only pack living in the south of the conservancy.  It’s only 5 dogs – 3 adults and 2 yearlings from last year.  The alpha female (Claw) and one of the yearling females are exceptionally beautiful dogs with lots of white markings.

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Although we didn’t actually see the dogs this visit (we waited near the den for 3 hours but they must have been sleeping off in the mopane woodland nearby) the camera trap photos showed us that they were all very much alive and well, and – most excitingly – the pups are out!  Here is one very bold one on his first excursion out of the den hole.

MDGC0575 - one pup nice

It looks like they came out on the 13th July for the first time.  Photos at this stage only showing two pups but we are hoping these are just the bolder ones and there will be more than that in the litter.

MDGC0582 - two puppies

Back soon,

Rosemary

Re-appearance of the missing Disney Pack

Hi folks,

We got a report the other day of a wild dog den outside the conservancy, a few kilometers south of one of the villages.  Misheck went to check it out, and – much to my surprise – came back with confirmation that it was indeed an active wild dog den.  He said it looked like only two dogs there, which, together with its location, suggested it was the pack which had been using Savuli Ranch in the Savé Valley Conservancy.

MDGC0190-male and female

Fortunately the dogs don’t seem to have been disturbing the villagers much and have so far been left alone (as has the camera trap we rather nervously left at the den!).  The camera trap photos confirmed that these two dogs are the remnants of the Disney Pack – a pack that formed in early 2010 through the joining of the remaining Teddy pack males and some females from the Mapari pack.  The pack used to be three individuals when it was on Savuli, but unfortunately in May one of the males (Barney) got killed in a snare.

Barney - dead May 2011

The remaining two dogs – Roxy and Baloo – are now doing their best, and have a small litter of just three pups.  They are going to need their wits about them to survive for the next few months, but I really hope they do; they’ve certainly done well to survive this far.

MDGC0520-v cute pup in hole

MDGC0582-three puppies

MDGC0687-three pups in a line

Back soon,

Rosemary

At least seven puppies for the Crocodile Pack

Hi folks,

The other day I posted a camera trap photo of the first sighting of the Crocodile Pack Pups.  In later pictures we can see there are at least seven pups and may be more!

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They are very cute things – full of character and some of them have especially beautiful markings.  I just hope they make it through the denning season without being discovered by lions.  Unfortunately they have denned in an area with a very high lion density, but let’s hope they remain unaffected by them.

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On the subject of lions, we are starting a big lion survey in the Save Valley Conservancy today, to try and find out exactly how many lions there actually are and what the group composition, age structure etc is.  We have several collars to put on during the survey so that lion monitoring can be continued in the future.  So if I’m quiet on this blog for a while, that’s why.  But I’ll try and post some pictures of the lion survey soon.

Cheers,

Rosemary

Wild dog project joined by a new student

Hi folks,

Just a quick note to introduce the latest member of our team.  Persistance Nyungu is a master’s student from the University of Zimbabwe and is working with us here in the Save Valley Conservancy for three months.

Persistance Nyungu

Persistance Nyungu

Persistance is doing vegetation sampling of the wild dog den sites from 2005 to 2010 in order to investigate if there has been any shift in behaviour in terms of den site selection due to the increasing lion population.  It will be an interesting study, and we are very happy to have Persistance working with us on this project.

Rosemary

Wild dogs in Gonarezhou National Park

Hi folks,

I’ve recently come back from 10 days in Gonarezhou, where I was conducting a large carnivore call-up survey, in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and Frankfurt Zoological Society.  I’ll tell you all about this in a later post, but during the time we were doing this work – focussed mainly on lions and hyenas – we also made significant progress with our understanding of the wild dog population in this large, remote wilderness area.

We were already aware of the existence of a pack in the very south of the park, and thanks to the exceptional tracking skills of Rueben, and a Parks scout Julius, they managed to locate the den of this pack.  This was extremely exciting, and is (to our knowledge) the first time anyone has located a wild dog den inside the park.  The den is about 3km off the nearest road, over ridges and through rivers and its find is a real credit to Rueben and Julius.  We have put some camera traps at the den, and I will post photos from them once I have been back to change the batteries.  In the meantime, we know there are at least 6 adults and 7 pups, although I think the pack is larger than that.

The den site of the Mabalauta Pack

The den site of the Mabalauta Pack

Just as excitingly, we also found evidence of another successfully breeding pack in a totally unexpected area of the park, where we have never seen any evidence of wild dogs before.  We saw one wild dog one night (when we were doing the calls for lions), and the next day followed the tracks and came across an area with plenty of old and fresh adult and puppy tracks suggesting a recent den in the area.

Rosemary & Rueben looking at tracks by a water pan we came across

Rosemary & Rueben looking at tracks by a water pan we came across

As you can see from the photo below however, the long grass in the area hampered tracking efforts, and we never found the den, but Rueben estimates about 10 adults and 8 pups from the tracks, which is fantastic.

Long grass in the area of the Chitanga Pack den

Long grass in the area of the Chitanga Pack den

This was all very encouraging, and suggests Gonarezhou may in fact be an important conservation unit for the wild dogs.

Rosemary

Star Pack Den Found

Hi folks,

Rueben and Misheck – in a very impressive feat of tracking – have managed to locate the den for the Star Pack.  The pack has chosen a den site right on the top of a big hill outside the conservancy – the first time in 14 years that a den has been found outside the fence.

Star Pack den site

Star Pack den site

The hill is only about 500m from the conservancy boundary, and it seems (from the tracks) that the dogs are still going in an out every day to hunt in the conservancy.  Unfortunately it means the pack is going to be very difficult to collar (they are currently un-collared), because there is no vehicle access to the den site.

It is possible the dogs have chosen this are in which to den, due to the threat from lions.  The lion population in the conservancy is really increasing dramatically, and already we’ve seen disruption by lions at other dens and pups being killed by lions: they are a real threat to the dogs.  Hopefully by denning outside the conservancy and at the top of a big hill, the dogs will be safer…

On a more positive note – the view from the den is stunning!

view 1

We have camera traps up at the den now, and will be able to follow the dogs progress through those.

Rosemary