African Wild Dog.
Wild Dogs are rare. It is estimated that only 3,000 – 5,500 remain in Africa. South Africa, (which is just one of a handful of countries with a viable population of Wild Dog), has just around 500 animals. 350 are found in Kruger National Park.
They are rare because of continual & increasing contact with humans, who build & expand into their natural habitat. Wild Dogs need a very large home range or territory, between 500 & 2,000 square kilometres. Which is quite staggering when compared to other major predators such as Lion (25-75 square kilometres) & Leopards (380-480 square kilometres). Added to this, is the major threat of canine distemper, which they can contract from domestic dogs. Wild Dogs will also prey upon domestic stock, (if wild prey is no longer available), which makes them enemy number one in ranching areas. All of these factors play a role in their scarcity & continued decline across Africa.
On the lookout, in late afternoon.
Taken in very poor light, with a compact camera!
On 20th June, in late afternoon, Rowan, Ceggy & I were conducting a game drive about 20 kilometres from our home, inside Kruger National Park. We came across nine wild dogs on the dirt road, who were beginning to hunt. They afforded amazing views over a twenty minute period, completely ignoring our presence.
At one stage they came across a Spotted Hyaena den & gave it a good investigation, while its rightful owner looked on helplessly!
Eventually they moved off the road & fanned out in preparation for a hunt. We reluctantly lost sight of them in the bush. This was a prolonged and exciting encounter with one of Africa’s rarest mammals & we felt very privileged to have seen them. It made a good game drive great!
Unbelievably, two days later we were driving along another dirt road about 10 kilometres from the above sighting, when we came across the same pack of nine Wild Dogs trotting down the road. As usual, the light was fading so the photos are not spectacular, but we were all thrilled by yet another sighting such as this.
These five photos were all taken by Ceggy.
Very playful towards each other.