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.
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.