Dogged pursuits in Kwazulu Natal – an update from the field
We just received an email update from Dave Marneweck, KwaZulu-Natal Project Field Officer at the Endangered Wildlife Trust. He attached some great photos of the Wild Dogs he works with and vividly brought to life, the comings and goings of the individuals he knows. Here is his report:
Recently, we have been working on a number of things in KZN. Firstly, we have almost finished re-collaring all the packs in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park with brand new satellite collars. Regarding this, we called up the Crossroads pack in Hluhluwe last weekend and managed to observe the interaction between the adults and pups at an impala carcass. Because there are only two adult males in the pack, we were very interested to see if there was any aggression between them before we decide which one to collar. Although the alpha male was restricting the beta male from the carcass, he did break off the rib-cage and drag it to the beta male to enjoy; very interesting behaviour I have included a photo of the alpha female Fossey who we suspect may even be pregnant.
Secondly, we have been witnessing Alfie’s pack spending a great deal of time at the holding boma in iMfolozi. The alpha male of the pack known as Alfie has been very aggressive towards the wild dogs in the boma, often biting the fence and getting his pack riled up to try and enter the boma (luckily with no success so far). We have also seen many hyena at the boma and even a group of white rhinos that chased Alfie’s pack away from the boma late one afternoon! I have attached photos of Alfie biting the fence, the hyena at the boma and one of the pups from Alfie’s pack being ushered away by a white rhino.
Lastly, we received a report of a group of five wild dogs outside the park very close to Ulundi. Nico Harris, the farmer that saw them, managed to get some photographs of the dogs allowing for potential identification. After a three hour drive to get to the farmer and looking at the photos and the site where he saw them, we managed to identify all five wild dogs – of two females and three males. Adding to this success we even managed to match them to individuals in our database and figured out that the females, known as Chase and Fifi were last seen in March last year and the males known as Dobby, Harry and Sirius were last seen 6 months ago! It is amazing how these individuals have survived so long outside of the protected areas with only a handful of reported sightings! The final excellent bit of news is that not only are these five animals together, but it appears they have bonded and we speculate they have formed a pack. With the mating season upon them and their instinct to reproduce, we are all hopeful that they will breed and perhaps even den in the game ranches outside of Hlhuluwe-iMfolozi Park. If this were to happen, then it would be an incredible success for the wild dog meta-population where a natural dispersal, pack formation and colonisation of a new area could occur! This has been one of the main objectives of the project and we look forward to seeing the outcome. As soon as more news and sightings come in, I will let you know how they are doing!
All the best,
Enjoy the photographs,