The middle of the month our Land Rover was out of the field to celebrate Land Rover’s 60th birthday in Johannesburg. Congratulations!
Prior to heading to Johannesburg, we reported the loss of the last pup on the 3rd October 2008, suspecting lion predation.
However, we cannot discount abandonment, as it had been noted that there was very little sign of affection toward the pup. Rory, the subadult was lost on the 8th of October, but found again on the 10th of October 2008.
The wild dogs produce a far carrying ‘hoo’ call and the judicious use of this probably enabled relocation.
It has been common knowledge this year that the wild dogs have been using the hills to seek refuge during the day.
The dogs were seen resting below a cliff in a crevice – not unlike the behaviour that a leopard would employ.
I duly investigated the site after they had left and found that it was significantly cooler than the surroundings, and thus the seeking of a cool midday resting site may be further reason for them to actually utilise hills.
It has always been assumed that the principal hypothesis is that they seek hills to avoid
lions, but this may not be the only reason as body temperature regulation by this behaviour may take precedence.
The pack is down to three, two adult females, Stellar and Fender, and then the yearling, Rory. Interestingly the dogs haven’t been showing normal wild dog behaviour like rallying and the other ritualised greeting behaviours – those observed are half cast versions only.
This emphasises the importance that a large, fully functional pack has on their social well being – all of this important information for conservation managers to learn.
Resont interasting events is that Tuli wild dog pack in Botswana has crossed the river and into South Africa, where there is a mix of state-run parks and private farmland. This has introduced a new dynamic to the project in terms of diplomacy with the greater community and trying to appease farmers.
What we are also excited to find out is whether individuals from the Tuli wild dog pack that may be inclined to disperse can somehow be able to meet up with our Venetia pack ?
This has been the case in other areas, and it is not unreasonable for us to anticipate such an occurrence. In the ideal world this would be most appreciated.
The wild dogs are taking it upon themselves to stake their claim to the Trans-Frontier Conservation Area, an initiative to create an expansive conservation area straddling three countries. While we humans are befuddling with internal politics and road agency
clearances the wild dogs seem to be making the first really bold attempts to make reality of that initiative !