If only every guest that comes through Londolozi could have the privilege of watching African Wild Dogs (AKA painted wolves) roaming their natural habitat.
Unfortunately, they are the rarest large carnivore that occurs in Southern Africa, only second in Africa to the Ethiopian Wolf. This, coupled with the fact that they have massive home ranges, means that sightings are relatively infrequent. Hence the excitement when somebody finds them…
On this particular morning we were in a little dry patch of sightings when the call from veteran ranger, Sandros Sihlangu, came through. We clinched our eyelids together (although as driver I was obliged to keep mine open!) and raced into the rain in order to reach the dogs, realising all too well that they could turn and sprint off Londolozi at a moments notice. Luckily for us they hung around.
And wow, what a spectacle we were treated to! Ten adults and eleven pups, back and forth around the vehicles in a wonderfully playful manner.
We followed the pack as they explored the open grasslands, running in and out of gullies in search of any prey. At one point we had a scrub hare come flying past with about three dogs metres behind its tail! Luckily for the hare it dived into a hole and was able to escape.
Soon after the scrub hare, the dogs were in hot pursuit of a large male warthog. This was risky business, as the warthog had enormous, sharp tusks and outweighed each dog by quite a margin. The warthog did not hang around in the open though, and skidded to a halt, backing into a burrow. Being the inquisitive animals they are, the dogs went and investigated, only to be charged at by the massive swine.
It wasn’t only the warthog that distracted the dogs. They stumbled across a herd of blue wildebeest in their travels. A bit too big for these dogs (although they are regularly hunted by them in other parts of Africa), but an entertaining interaction ensued. I have seen dogs encircle a female wildebeest and her calf before, constantly looking for gaps in the defence, only to eventually fail to make a kill.
The harassing of the wildebeest could only last so long as the dogs were now getting hungrier and thirstier by the minute. They continued trotting along, heading towards a small waterhole that often attracts high numbers of general game. The whole pack climbed into the mud and water, drinking and playing. One or two dogs must have smelt something though as they moved on slightly ahead. At that same moment, a whole stream of about 20-30 white-backed vultures descended over our heads.
We drove around ahead and by the time we positioned the vehicle, the whole pack was devouring the remains of an impala ram. The dogs had found the majority of a carcass on the ground – an easy meal really! We are uncertain as to what may have made the kill, but hypothesise that it may even have been a cheetah as one had been in the area the evening before.
With ten adults and 11 pups, this particular pack of dogs is looking particularly strong and healthy. We are led to believe that this is the pack that was denning just outside of L0ndolozi’s north-western corner earlier this year. It’s great to see how many pups have reached this age (over four months), as we are nearing the impala lambing season in which the dogs will have an ample supply of prey, further increasing the pups’ chances of survival.
Let’s hope they make more regular appearances!
Filed under General Nature Safari experience Wildlife
It is always a priveledge to see these highly endangered predators. There is always some action around with them, especially when they have pups.
Wow, loved this story and the photos!
Have never seen wild dog pups.
Had an unbelievable opportunity to witness a 30 minute wild dog pack/wildebeest herd standoff in Tanzania with both groups making charges at the other.
SUCH an interesting article, Pete! Good for you! It really seems to be a flourishing and large pack. In all our holidays in the Bush we sadly have NEVER seen a Wild Dog in the Bush! We feel deprived when we read stories of Wild Dogs seen by so many other people! Amazing little animals. Such survivors! – Wendy M
Pete, we had seen wild dogs make a kill in Kenya, it was so awesome as sat devouring the kill🤗
So good to know the pups are growing and thriving. What a thrill for you and your guests to witness the activities of 21 dogs!
Oh wow, I was so lucky to see a wild dog hunt from start to bloody finish when I stayed with you. I was even more lucky as the guests who were first there thought they had seen enough and left.
I feel jealous of the guests who are clearly in for some good viewing
Thank you for a great report on the Londolozi wild dogs. We were lucky to watch a pack of them a year ago while on a game drive.
You are/were so fortunate to see Wild Dogs! My wife’s favorite predator but, as you say, difficult to find and even more difficult to witness the pack in action. As you said, they roam over large areas, as much as 20 miles in a day we’ve found. We hope they stay around Londolozi for a while!!!
Amazing to see wild dogs back on the reserve!!
You and your guests were fortunately be entertained most of the day with this large pack. Rare opportunity!