The morning was cloudy, the air was still but there was an exciting buzz in the air when ranger, Patrick Grealy, called in on the radio
“Stations, we have found the pack of wild dogs running along boundary road.”
The suspense was tangible, was the pack going to turn east away from Londolozi or west onto Londolozi?
I eagerly awaited Pat’s next update while desperately trying to get across to hopefully get a glimpse of the wild dogs. His husky voice crackled over the radio,
“the pack are now moving west onto Londolozi.”
Informing them of the news and to hold on tight, we turned it up a notch as the guests we were driving were desperate to see a pack of wild dogs.
On our way across there, we happened to find two wild dogs that were part of the pack that Pat was with. They had lost their pack and were frantically trying to find them, the dogs were calling and sniffing the ground searching for their pack member’s scent to follow. We tried our best to stay with these two, but eventually, it became too difficult as they went through an incredibly thick and rocky area. Our best option for seeing them again would be to join Pat with the rest of the wild dogs. As we arrived there and switched off the vehicle, we heard this…
Before I tell you more about the hoo call, I want to explain the events that happened before the pack all called.
- The alpha female of this pack was last seen when she was heavily pregnant and is believed to have given birth in a den near the Londolozi boundary.
- The pack had no evidence of blood around their face (which often suggests that they have killed something) and their stomachs were not round and full of food. Thus, they were on the hunt looking for any prey to provide for themselves and for the Alpha female who was back at the den looking after the pups.
- They had a run-in with the Nkuhuma Sub-adults, and thankfully their acute senses allowed them to notice the lions before it was too late and their athleticism got them away unscathed.
- The two of the pack members were still missing.
There are many theories as to why Wild dogs “Hoo” call (I say Hoo because it sounds just like that). Wild dogs will hoo call as a means of reconnecting with other members of the pack after they are separated. They may become separated after a hunt where they end up chasing different impala in different directions. Occasionally they have a run-in with a threat such as lions and need to run from the danger causing them to be split up. Wild dogs’ hearing is amazing and they will be able to hear this hoo call over large distances helping them find each other.
Another reason for the hoo call is when different members of the pack are believed to be establishing dominance or forming a new alpha male or female pair. This may occur if one dies or it is a newly formed pack and they are still working out the ranking amongst themselves. The last theory is that it could be a mating ritual call. It is difficult to determine from this exactly what the reasoning behind this call was as it was the first time many of the wild dog enthusiasts I have spoken to have heard it. It could be any combination of the reasons I have mentioned above.
If you might have a theory, please let us know in the comments section below. Either way it was an amazing game drive spent with the wild dogs and one that left us intrigued as to why the wild dogs were calling like this.