Having been spoiled by being at Mashatu during the week the new pack of dogs was being prepared for release last year, I was a little worried that I might not see them this year. Fortunately, they happened to be hanging around camp rather than exploring the areas that are not as accessible but which are part of their range. We saw them several times; at night and during the day. I will, of course, get carried away with the number of pictures in the album. So I thought I’d start with a blog and a few of the photos.
They are an endangered species and attempts are being made to reintroduce them to former territories. This pack has split since the birth of two litters. Initially, the pack that was introduced consisted of several adults and some pups that were more or less grown. The alpha male impregnated not only the alpha female but also a second one. These pups were all raised successfully. The alpha female has just given birth again. The pups have not been seen as they stay underground for at least two weeks before they emerge from the den. I have also learned on this last trip that although they are clearly canines, they are so distinct as a species that they do not mate with domestic dogs. Their most recent common ancestor existed two million years ago.
A few of the photos ought to have an explanation. The alpha male is losing his status. That is him off to the side.
This younger male decided to mate with the alpha female. Apparently, he was very stressed and whimpered the entire time they were together. However, he maintained his vigilance. You can see the wounds he has from their fights. The alpha female is the one pictured here with the collar.
When all was said and done, and the alpha male had definitely been usurped, the brother of the male that mated with the female became the new alpha male. No one knows exactly how that happened! What I love about these dogs is how communal they really are. They do not fight over their food. They always let young pups feed first. They will all regurgitate for the pups when they begin to eat meat. They will also regurgitate food for the mother in the first few weeks and will also do that for any sick or injured pack member. In fact, when the alpha male was usurped, another male stayed with him until he could reenter the pack.