Sunday, 4 November 2007

Hopefully they're here to stay.

3 November 2007, Pieter, Rob and the Wild Earth crew had the Great honor of bringing you a pack of four beautiful and rare; Wild Dogs ... LIVE.
Pieter's sudden outburst, filled with pure adrenalin, got me, and I am sure all of you, on the edge of our seats in mere seconds. It was really something to remember when he caught the first glimpse of this wonderful mother and her three youngsters. When WE saw them for the first time, we were a little bit worried that this pack would not make it, and that they would not be able to make a kill because there is only one adult that could hunt. But their full round bellies this time gave us a glimmer of hope as they must have made a kill somewhere. This may prove that the young ones are old enough to help in the hunting and thus contributing to the packs survival.
Wild Dogs operate over huge home ranges and because WE can only traverse on a relatively small area we cannot promise to see them as often as the leopards or lions that we see more frequently. It is estimated that this pack have a home range of approximately 30 000 hectares. Pieter photographed them and each individual has rather distinct markings. Therefore if they do come back into our area again WE will be able too identify the different dogs very easily and monitor the packs survival and success. Hopefully WE will get to know them well over time.
Two years ago they were a strong pack of 17 dogs, but sadly the cruelty of the bush prevailed. One day close to the Simbambili border, the Robson pride of lions murdered 15 members of the family. One male and female survived this terrible ordeal. Months later they mated and shortly after in a den in the Manyaleti five new pups were born. A Friend of mine later saw a hyena killing one and another one mysteriously disappeared just weeks after that. WE don't know what happened to the male, but assume that he also got killed by lions or another predator a while later.
I've added some pictures of the individuals and will highlight how you can identify those through different marking on they're bodies, hope you enjoy them.
This is the Adult female, also called the Alpha female. If you look closely; She has a gap in her left ear, a really obvious way too recognize her in future. Also she has what looks like an arrow marking on the tip of her tail.


This is a young one and again WE can use the markings on his/her tail to identify and recognize the dog. The tail starts with a black patch followed by a white one and then another black one. The tail ends off with a much smaller fluffy white tip. It looks like this dog also has a hole in its left ear, Pieter is not entirely sure but he thinks that it could be a piece of grass that got stuck to it. If you compare the size of the different hole on this one to that of the female it is obvious that the female's hole is much larger.
The second youngster has a big black spot on his/her tale.
The last picture is of the pup lying down in the road, he/she is a bit far but it's clearly distinguishable by its full white tail as she waves it around.
Wild dogs are very seriously endangered animals. What happened too the rest of the pack two years ago proves how easily they are taken out by other Predators and shows how threatened they are. Although it certainly is positive that in the last two weeks this pack did make two kills and that shows that they are doing OK.
Sadly WE are a little worried about the survival of this pack. Let's face it; the odds are just not in their favour.

Written by Jan Harm Robbertse

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This was an amazing sighting! Thanks WE, for bringing this to us, LIVE!
And Pieter's comments were both educational and fun - we enjoy his excitement!! Please hang on to this man! He brings so very much to WE.
~~ Wildcall

AKA said...

Thanks for the wonderful information! We all hope to be able to spot and identify these dogs for a long time