Carnivore Conservation Group, Endangered Wildlife Trust In August after a few weeks of suspecting that there where pups we had the first visual of the 7 pups moving with the pack some 10 kilometres south of the den in the koppies. Stellar appeared to be moving the pups to another den site.
She did not, however, choose an old aardvark or warthog hole which is most common, but chose to hide the pups in rocky outcrops whilst she went off with the other 3 adults to hunt. Of the seven pups only two pups survived August and by mid-September, another pup was lost, leaving only one surviving from this year’s litter, which is sad, but
not necessarily unusual.
The alpha male also disappeared and we have to assume that he has died,
possibly in defence of his pups.
They monopolised the south of the reserve and we were able to follow their radio signal but did not get to see them directly. Then most worrying, the dogs’ signal ran straight into one of the lion signals – this might have been when an attack happened.
Although we did not see any interactions, we think that lions may be responsible for several of the pup mortalities. A brown hyena was also implicated in the loss of one of the pups. Again, we were unable to see what was happening, but it was clear from the screams and squeals that something serious was going on.
The pack was then extremely skittish and we did not see them for 10 days. For the Venetia Wild Dog pack September marks the end of the denning season and the start of their nomadic phase.
What has been interesting in the last few months is their persistent use of rocky outcrops and koppies across the reserve.
Their use of hills might be as sanctuary from enemies like lions and may be an important refuge for Wild Dogs on medium-sized game reserves. The Landy has had to negotiate some challenging off-roads to obtain visuals of these wily dogs!
The pack currently consists of the Alpha female, Carat, Fender and Rory, the only male. Because Rory is the son of the Alpha female the pack cannot currently breed, as there is no unrelated alpha pair.
A decision will be made later in the year on how to address this – this may involve moving some dogs away from here, or bonding them with new dogs from other areas. Watch this space for more excitement in the life and times of the Venetia Wild Dogs.