Chitabe Camp Manager, Moalosi Livi, recounts some of his great lockdown adventures on this phenomenally productive Delta concession, including a new litter for one of the local wild dog packs.
Driven by our deep love for the African bush, we went out almost every day during the second week of July, and each day started and ended with extraordinary sightings.
That week we experienced the wild dogs’ most intimate moments and had a privileged look at their personal world – starting with watching them scouring their home range for a safe den for their puppies. They returned to two of the dens they have used before and started to renovate both of them, since there were two pregnant females.
One of the females has now given birth, and we got see a very rare scenario when the remaining pregnant female walked into the den and emerged carrying a newly born puppy. She walked around showing it to the rest of the pack, and even the way she was moving made it clear she was carrying a fragile, precious item. She eventually put it down, and the alpha male rounded up the other dogs to come and see the puppy, sniffing it before she carried it back into the den. Most of the dogs then moved in and out of the den – we guessed in a greeting ceremony with the nursing mother. It confirmed that the arrival of the puppies was a very exciting occasion.
Once the excitement of the puppy was over, they then assembled, and after their greeting ritual set off for an evening hunt, while two of the dogs stayed behind to guard the den.
It was extremely fascinating to experience the wild dogs’ highly developed social system, in addition to what we already know. Now that there are puppies, their life will spent around the den. Also, now that they are denning and it is still at a fragile stage, we will be staying away from visiting the den for some time as part of our protocol not to disturb this delicate stage, so they can settle in. Driving up and down to the den may carry the scent of other predators and may confuse the dogs and force them to move while puppies are small and helpless. Also it is to avoid opening a road to the den, because other predators like using roads for easy travel, and this may lead them to the den.
At the end of the week we saw the other resident pack of nine hunting in the early hours of the morning; however, this time only seven of them were in the pack. The alpha female and one of the yearlings were missing, so it’s possible they could also be denning in the area. We returned to where they rested for the day to follow them on their afternoon/evening hunt. At dawn they started moving with urgency and we couldn’t keep up with them. We have been following their tracks recently and we hope to see them again soon.
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