Posts Tagged ‘students’

African Wild Dog – have no expectation

April 1st, 2010, posted in Wildlife

Can having an expectation ruin a sighting?  Will guests “jinx” a sighting?  There have been times when visitors to a game reserve come to see lion; it is almost as though they become obsessed with seeing a lion in the wild.

Fate, Murphy’s Law or the hand of God teaching these guests patience often prevent the secret of bush being revealed and special sightings from occurring.  The opposite also happens when the reason for your game, bird or bush walk is to experience nature for what it is, without any expectations…

On my recent visit to Zululand to help train students along the lines of animal behavior we took a game drive and were blessed with an African Wild Dog sighting!

african wild dog wild dogs

Having no expectation of seeing wild dog, only going to learn more about the wildlife, these students were about to learning about the bush and animal behaviour, in a very special, albeit brief encounter with one of Africa’s rare species!

The African Wild Dog Lycaon pictus, is an endangered species and can only be seen in 6 countries, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tanzania. Their distribution has been greatly reduced within these countries and is very fragmented, so when you see them, know you are blessed!

No two dogs have the same markings and colouration and yet they are unlikely to be mistaken for any other African canid. The ears are large, dark and rounded; the legs are long and its bushy tails usually has a whit tip.  The African Wild Dogs’ body is irregularly blotched with black, white, brown and mustard coloured hair.

These highly social wild animals live in packs that average 10-15 adults and sub adults. Hunting is done by the pack with a success rate of about 70%. Packs kill only for their immediate needs.  The African Wild Dog is one of the few, truly nomadic carnivores with home ranges extending to 1500km². Pack ranges do contract when there are small pups at the den requiring regular feeding, which is done by the adult hunters of the pack regurgitating meat back at the den for the pups.  Pups begin to join the pack at about 3 months but only hunting from 12-14 months.

Zululand, african wild dog sighting brief sighting of African wild dog, zululand