Most of you would have already seen photographs and read about our existing wild dog den site along our western boundary. This den site has been one of the most productive areas in our game viewing of late, with many guests having the rare priviledge to sit with a pack of 11 adults and their six new pups. These pups are now reaching 12 weeks of age and this is the time when we believe they may begin to run alongside the pack when they move and go hunting. There is a severe change of pace for these dogs when the little ones begin to run with the pack. They need to ensure the pups can keep up with the fast paced lifestyles and cover the distances they do each day. For this reason the first few weeks and even months will see the pack moving less and slightly slower until the youngsters can keep up with the pace, and then it is back to the usual, fast paced movements.
It has been an amazing three weeks and a highlight for us to sit at the den and watch the pups and adults interacting, playing and socialising with one another, in this intensive and closely knit family group. We have had the ability to watch the adults hunt, kill, feed, and turn for home at some blistering speeds, to return to the most excited little pups waiting for their morning meal. We got to hear the yulps, squeals and screeches. Especially exciting was watching the biting and stimulation of the adults that regurgitate food for the pups who devour and swallow whole pieces of meat in seconds.
The abundance of prey, particularly impala and nyala in the region of the Sabi Sands has allowed the dogs to remain successful, healthy and safely raise the current litter to a position where they will become integral parts of a future hunting pack. For the time they have been here, and for the little time that may remain, we have only them to thank.
They are still denning along our western boundary and the pack still consists of 11 adults and six pups, who are all healthy and mobile. It may be a week or so before they leave but the time is soon. For this reason, I have compiled a few images to remember the time we spent with them at this young age.
Written and Photographed by: Mike Sutherland