The first litter of African Wild Dog puppies has come to Zululand Rhino Reserve!
As mother and aunt sit guarding the den, 3 from the pack of 5 wild dog adults set off hunting in order to bring back food for both the wild dog puppies and adults in the form of regurgitation. This helps sustain mum’s lactating ability and keeps the adults on duty strong as they are not able to leave the pups unattended at the den for long periods of time to hunt for themselves.
Wildlife ACT volunteers play a big role in helping determine different wild dog dynamics and record parameters like location data, movement patterns, activity, feeding behaviour, pup sex ratios and survival rates, as well as the differences in habits when denning vs not.
With the pups reaching almost 2 months old, their diet slowly changes from milk to that of solid substances such as regurgitated meat from the adults. This means that the adults that go hunting will now not only have to bring back meat for the puppy-sitters at the den but for an additional 10 stomachs too! These three individuals leave to find food almost every day and are out for hours at a time before returning to the den.
Wildlife ACT volunteers help by capturing this data in order to show trends as well as distances of how far the adults leave the den and for how long at a time. This information helps substantially by contributing to the management of the KZN meta-population – an important contributor to the South African population.
Written by Wildlife ACT Monitor Megan Hudson