Wild dogs are one of those incredible animals that bring about so much excitement amongst all the rangers and trackers. When they are on the property which varies in its frequency, we all want to get across and see them. One of the packs of wild dogs that we see comes from the south and has 20 dogs in it. It is known as the Toulon Pack. The majority of their home range is beyond the borders of Londolozi, however, in recent weeks they have been found all over the central and northern parts of Londolozi.
Knowing they were on Londolozi from the evening before, we set off early in the morning hoping ot find them, but due to the full moon they had already moved on and left our search fruitless. The following morning while getting ready to set out on the drive we could hear hyenas close to camp fighting with each other. Rangers Matt Rochford, Tayla Brown, and myself set off to find out what all the commotion was about.
Soon into the search we found about five very full-bellied hyenas finishing off the remains of an impala kill. This carcass was likely stolen from another predator, or predators. It didn’t take long before Matt found tracks of the wild dogs on a road nearby which meant they had to still be close by. Knowing how fast these animals move the three of us were furiously trying to catch up with them and retrace their movements.
After doing many circles around the area we were delighted to hear that Tayla had found them playing in the open clearing. This pack has many youngsters and their youthfulness was incredible to witness as they chased after each other, biting each other’s tails and finding sticks, and running off after each other.
After some time two wild dogs climbed on a termite mound to scan their surroundings as their last kill had been stolen by hyenas.
Soon the alpha female headed off and the rest followed as did we too. In the distance on the next crest about 10 of them had their tails up and squealing- which at first I thought they had killed something and were all feeding.
Until we got closer and realized they were furiously digging. With sand going everywhere we realized they had smelt something and were trying to dig it up. After some time some of the other wild dogs lost interest while others continued taking turns digging.
Suddenly, a scrub hare erupted from the burrow and unfortunately dashed toward the other wild dogs who were scattered around. Within minutes this scrub hare was eaten and the wild dogs scrambled around to try and get their share of the meal.
The warmth of the sun began to set in and the wild dogs eventually found refuge in some nearby shade where they spent the afternoon. It is always an exciting time to see these endangered species on the reserve and more so this pack who we don’t get to see that often. Let’s hope we continue to view these incredible dogs and with time watch this pack grow.