Wild dogs spring another surprise!
The Mupanigawa pack were in the Chiredzi river at dusk chilling out next to the water but daren’t cross. They’re really nervous of that flowing water and what lurks beneath.
As it got dark they ambled away from the river and up to the Binya road where they spent the rest of the night sleeping.
Early in the evening the clouds rolled in fast and furious and brought with them a little rain, then a cloud burst and then it cleared.
But at dawn the temperatures plummeted as a low cloud swept in with the wind. Really chilly.
This was just when the dogs got on the move again heading south-west. The Alpha female led the way with her very pregnant tummy.
The dogs were hunting and made several chases after impala but not with much enthusiasm. The Alpha female hanging back as she just can’t keep up with the fore runners with her big tummy.
But the dogs just didn’t have it in them this morning and kept moving towards the Chiredzi river.
They moved on into the river and following after them, I wasn’t very confident that I would get up the steep banks again and might find myself stuck in the river. I kept Barend on standby at the top of the bank.
The dogs got to the flowing water and seemed stumped yet again. They were scared of the water, and this time is was the adults standing back and the more naïve pups staring threateningly at the water.
They would stare at one spot for some time and then move on downstream. Stare again and then move on. This went on for about half a kilometre.
Then Split made her move. As casually as ever she walked into the river, only about a foot deep, as if she was about to lie down it. The rest of the pack followed and in a sudden rush of panic all crossed the river into unknown territory.
This is not a part of Malilangwe but is a protected area although it’s not that safe from people. So I worry now about the dogs.
With the Alpha female so near to pupping I hope they’ll soon be back as they often den in the same places as they’ve done before.
After much to-ing and fro-ing I eventually managed to climb out the river bank. Good old Toyota! (Hey Toyota it’s time you guys came on board)
Not being able to follow any further I headed back to Banyini to see if the lions were still in the area. There was no sign of them luckily for a lone buffalo cow. She’s in great condition and looks heavily pregnant but there’s something wrong with her back leg. Dislocated? I couldn’t make out what the problem was but she’s basically immobile. She eventually hobbled into the pan and lay down clumsily.
I doubt she’ll be able to get up again. But will be following up on her this afternoon.
That looks like a young boy carrying a number of bows and arrows.
Does the woman have something in her hand? I don’t really know what she’s doing.
29th April 2000
Early evening we found Tjololo had hoisted his kill. The hyaenas had arrived and were milling around the base of the tree searching for scraps.
Leaving Tjololo and his overgrown belly we prowled for some other action.
Near the Mala Mala airstrip we found a lioness hunting. Again we hit it lucky as she killed an impala in the open but quite a distance from us. Although I filmed it I don’t think I had enough light. Only time/processing will tell.
Tjololo had left his kill safely hung in a tree and we found him on a route march maintaining his territory. He headed south and later east into Kruger. The very boggy roads in the east made passage impossible and we were only too happy to get back to dry ground. The visions of getting stuck out there would surely have meant many many hours toiling with the jack and axe.
Having moved such a long way from his kill, we wonder if he will return. If he does we can probably expect him there tonight.
News gets a little better.
Having had a chance to get a closer look at the wild dogs, there are actually 17. So we’ve lost Toffee and the Alpha male, both presumed dead. The other missing dog is BB. I’m still hoping she’ll come back from wherever.
We won’t have the test results of the dead dog until Monday, but we’re not waiting for that. Last night we inoculated 2 dogs for Rabies and put a new collar on Whisky so at least we can keep track of them regularly. We also treated Sash’s badly mutilated ear.
At dusk I was following 6 dogs when they suddenly responded to other wild dog calls. I raced to keep up with them but couldn’t. Although I’d only lost them for a couple of minutes, when I arrived on the scene the impala carcass was finished. They are so efficient at getting rid of a carcass. (Remember how long it took the Nduna pride to finish off an impala, at least 20 minutes. This is probably because they’re fighting over the kill and trying to hold onto the biggest piece all the time.)
Wild dogs can’t afford to take time over their kills in case other predators arrive and chase them off.
We left the dogs resting about 9pm and went to the Nduna pride on Banyini where they had been witnessed killing a zebra just after sunset. In just those 3 hours they’d finished of an adult zebra. Nduna was looking huge!
Resting in the open area around midnight, we heard the wild dogs kill to our west and then being hassled by hyaenas. (Wild dogs will hunt at night when the moon is big) Nduna didn’t like the sound of that. He was up instantly and trotting in that direction belly swaying from side to side. I think this is the only time I’ve seen him not walking. But he wasn’t interested in what the dogs had killed. (How could he be, he had nowhere to fit it in). Like all lions, he wanted to murder the competition. The dogs were aware of him way before he got there. Alarm calling they took off west.
Lions, especially males, have this insatiable desire to murder the competition and will go out of their way to do so. Uncomfortable as he was, Nduna was quickly after the dogs and hyaena.
But other predators, hyaena, wild dogs, leopards, although they don’t like the competition, don’t have this aggressive attitude towards them. No hyaenas don’t. Hyaenas would charge in to a situation like that to get the food, not kill the competition.
We picked up on the dogs heading west for about 2kms before they rested up.
At dawn they were on the move again hunting. 3 of them split off chasing after impala and went unnoticed by the rest of the pack. Only when the 3 called did the pack come rushing back to the kill they had made.
Not bad for the dogs, 3 impala in 12 hours.
We hope in the coming days to inoculate the rest of the pack against Rabies.