As one can see with the blogs coming through, we are having several really good sightings of the Wild dogs. These incredible animals are highly organized and successful hunters, having a success rate of 80%. They predominantly target medium sized antelope, but in some areas will predate on Greater Kudu, this is all dependent on prey and pack numbers.
As beautiful as these mammals are, there success rate has also led to their demise in particular in rural areas, where livestock farmers fear the safety of their goats, sheep or cattle. This has unfortunately resulted in a large drop in dog numbers, where they are killed on site, and den sites are set alight with dogs and pups inside. Another issue is feral dogs spreading canine diseases, which include canine distemper and rabies to African Wild dogs.
The Selous Game Reserve is said to have a strong hold for African Wild Dog populations, with large numbers of individual dogs, and big packs. In saying this though, there are times where the dogs are very difficult to see, in particular during the denning period, where they become very elusive. So as we always say, no guarantee on seeing them, but chances can be very good.
However we are lucky enough to have 4 packs venturing around close to Beho Beho and in the areas we normally do our game drives. And with the impala lambing, we have been seeing several Wild dog kills, where one can see the speed, and tactics of these incredible predators come out and into play. Where the pack hones in on an individual lamb, and they go for it, in most cases being successful, the kill however is quicker than what most people have heard and expect, gruesome none the less, as they rip the individual apart in seconds, and consume it even quicker.
We have noticed that they generally predate on Impala, now that the lambs are in full swing, they are the prime targets, however adults also fall victim.
The pack has a dominant pair, comprising of an alpha male and female, and then the rest of the pack is made of related males, and unrelated females. As the females tend to move off, and join up with other packs, and the males usually stay behind. The subordinate female may breed with other males, however in most cases, the alpha female may kill the subordinates pups, or the primary focus and assistance from the lower ranking female is more on the alpha female’s offspring, and that usually results in her pups succumbing to starvation and dying.
As cruel as this may sound, the thing is that for Wild dogs to be successful, they need to operate as a well-oiled killing machine, and there are times where the alpha female will leave the den and join with the hunt. This is where the subordinate female or females will look after her pups, and secure the survival of those pups; there full focus needs to be on one set of pups, that being of the alpha females.
We often view nature as being cruel, but in most aspects we are more so. However said, it is an absolute pleasure to be able to work in magical places as the Selous, in a beautiful camp like Beho Beho.
Here one can often share the images, and also the pleasure of such an area, with people who haven’t yet experienced it or been here, and again with those who have, with new memories and adventures.