Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Incredible wildlife sighting................




Cape Hunting Dog - Lycaon pictus

The Cape Hunting Dog is found only in Africa. 
Known by several other names including the 
African Wild Dog, painted wolf, and painted dog, 
it was an animal I had high hopes of spotting 
on this recent visit.

The Cape Hunting dogs had not been at Mala Mala for four years, having moved to adjoining Kruger National Park in 2008....that's why it was the only animal I didn't see two years ago when there! This year there was great excitement when a pack of dogs denned on Mala Mala's property and seven puppies were born in June, one of which sadly met its demise when taken by a tawny eagle just before our arrival.

Before the chase - other guests from our camp in another vehicle - the dogs getting ready to follow the one who had made the kill and came back bloodied to tell them.

That evening at dusk we had what will always be remembered as one of the most exciting wildlife sightings and rides of our safari.............following the pack of dogs through the bush to where one had made a kill. Gordon drove us at breakneck speed, and although my injuries were not THAT severe, I did have a few bruises on my side where I hit the hard armrest of the Land Rover several times as I was swung to and fro! We crashed over rough terrain, 'landscaping' as we went by knocking down large bushes and small trees. After perhaps 20 minutes of rough riding, we came upon the kill, an impala, already being consumed by the dogs, somewhat gruesome but always part of survival in nature.

Herd of female impala

The following day we were driven to the den - unfortunately the puppies didn't come out for us. They remain under careful supervision of the alpha female, first venturing out at about 3 weeks, then starting to eat, at a ravenous rate, the regurgitated meat from the adult dogs after they return from a kill. 

Recent  blog posts from Mala Mala report that the puppies have now been moved on to another den for safety, and they are now hunting with the adult dogs.

Adult dogs hanging out in the den area, sleeping or checking us out.

Bob was especially thrilled with the night chase - he truly got the feel of riding wildly through the bush, under the stars, and was amazed at Gordon's ability behind the wheel in the darkness. 

Another sighting of the dogs came early one morning at breakfast when it was Bob who first spied the dogs in the Sand River, just beyond our camp's main area. They had another kill..............


.............and guests and rangers came running with binoculars and cameras to view. Later that day the hyenas came after the dogs left, and the next morning the vultures cleaned up.


Rather odd looking dogs, no two 'painted' alike.  Sadly, they are now endangered, their numbers having been reduced from 500,000 in 39 countries to just 3,000 in Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa. There are no records showing they have attacked humans, however people are their greatest enemies due to hunting and poaching.

7 comments:

  1. They are odd looking aren't they. So sad when animals are becoming extinct. Your photos are great. I love the one of all of the people....

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  2. Fascinating post, I do love to "travel" with you!

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  3. The Cape Hunting Dogs are Steve's favourite wild animal, he's seen them in the wild but I've only ever seen them at Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre when we went to see the cheetahs. Great photos.

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  4. Very interesting post Mary! Sounds like you've had some amazing 'Wild Dog' experiences and I'm so glad you got some amazing views of the Dogs. Sounds like Bob could get a job at Mala Mala, with his Eagle eyes!.

    Sorry to hear about the pup being taken by a Tawny Eagle. We saw a few of these magnificent birds in Botswana.

    We did NOT see African Wild Dogs on this trip and it was strange that others dismissed it as 'not a big deal'. I suppose you have to 'see them' to appreciate them, don't you. Seeing endangered animals and birds ARE ALWAYS A BIG DEAL TO ME!

    I actually saw my first African Wild Dog in the Kruger about 11 years ago. A big coach was parked by the side of the road and all of it's passengers were up on their feet looking out. I wasn't expecting them to have seen much, considering the huge vehicle they were in-but next to the coach was a Wild Dog, posing beautiful on a small hill.

    I next saw Wild Dogs in Zambia, at the South Luangwa National Park. 3 of us were in a jeep when a huge pack, with pups were spotted in the distance. After a bit of gentle coaxing the guide drove us right up to them and we spent a happy half an hour watching them. I took SOOO many photos as they are so beautiful and interesting.

    And in 2010, with my nephew, in the Umfolozi Nat. Park, South Africa, a Wild Dog ran out in front of us, it's face covered in blood, and then chasing it was a Spotted Hyena. That was very exciting.

    I feel truly blessed to have seen the dogs. Memories to treasure.

    Sft x

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  5. What an interesting post, Mary! I love learning something new. These are fascinating animals, I can see how they blend into their surroundings. Sad that they are endangered...they're beautiful!

    XO,
    Jane

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  6. Fascinating! They aren't very pretty, but what an exciting spotting. The evening ride does sound wild, but adventurous all at the same time. I don't think I have heard of these dogs. I always learn something from your travels.

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  7. I have never seen dogs like those before. What a unique color to them! Their eyes though look so sad, sad puppy dog eyes. Wonderful that you had the chance to finally see them.
    Take Care,
    Ulrike

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