Wild Dog Conservation
January 25, 2013

The adventures of Alfie’s pack in iMfolozi

Alfie and Bruce are two male African Wild Dogs (also known as painted dogs) that were relocated at the end of May 2012 from Tembe Elephant Park into Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park. At their destination, they were put into a boma, sharing a common fence with Ruby (Figure 3) and Raqui, two females from iMfolozi’s Shiyane Pack. The two females were caught mid-April 2012 while dispersing out of the Park where their lives would have been jeopardized. On the 16th of June, the gate between the two enclosures was opened, enabling the bonding between the females and males, leading to the creation of Isiphiva Pack.[caption id="attachment_2460" align="aligncenter" width="664"] Alfie, the alpha-male African painted dog originally from Tembe Elephant Park[/caption][caption id="attachment_2461" align="aligncenter" width="664"] Bruce, a male also coming from Tembe Elephant Park[/caption][caption id="attachment_2462" align="aligncenter" width="665"] Ruby, a female disperser from iMfolozi's Shiyane Pack[/caption]The release of a new packOn the 7th of July 2012, the four Wild Dogs were released into the wild. Twenty days later, we were called out as the pack was outside! We went straight to the western border of the park and Ruby’s signal was pointing outside. In the meantime, Alfie and Bruce were seen alone in the far north of the park. We do not know what the reasons are but the bonding in captivity did not work! On the 9th of September, after more than of month of doubt about Ruby (and Raqui?), we picked up her signal… she was back in the vicinity of the park. Regrettably, Ruby died while outside the park a few days later only a few hundred meters away from the gate. At that time no one knew about Raqui who was by herself in or outside the park without a collar! (A high number of Wild Dogs that escape reserves get killed by cars, farmers or get into contact with feral dogs and contract diseases.)[caption id="attachment_2464" align="aligncenter" width="651"] The release of the newly borned Isiphiva Pack[/caption]The ‘outsiders’Alfie and Bruce hooked up with four females that had dispersed from Ume Pack. Alfie’s new pack preferred to stick around the eastern border of the park - at the confluence of the Black and the White iMfolozi rivers. At the beginning of November, they broke out of the park into the community farmlands. A wildlife veterinarian managed to dart one of the females - Chase - who was brought back into the park and collared. Unfortunately the other ones were still outside and were causing damage to community livestock. It took Chase less than 24-hours to join the other pack members outside the park. Finally, a helicopter from Game Capture had to be used to push them back inside the protected area. This did not last long as just few days later - the 9th of November - the pack was back outside. Conservation volunteers John Francis, Matthew Furr and Tim Tanghe, and wildlife monitor Antoine Marchal, along with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife staff had to go outside and chase them back inside on foot. The track lasted for more than three-hours walking through thickets and other bush encroachment. The vegetation was so dense and the slope so steep that we were not able to see them while sweeping the whole valley. We did not really now if it worked out that day, but the following day the whole pack was thankfully back inside the park.[caption id="attachment_2465" align="aligncenter" width="677"] Alfie, Bruce and the four females from Ume Pack[/caption][caption id="attachment_2466" align="aligncenter" width="678"] The collaring of Chase for which a t-shirt had to be used as a towel to cover her face[/caption][caption id="attachment_2467" align="aligncenter" width="678"] Conservation volunteer John Francis using the telemetry outside the park for locating the pack that was down a highly vegetated valley[/caption]RaquiThree months after the death of Ruby, her sister Raqui was found following the males of Ume dispersers. She was in good health but it seemed that the males, including Moses, did not want her as she was blood related and therefore not able to become a potential breeder. We decided to collar her as quickly as possible in the case that she disperses again out of the park. Since the merging between the males of Ume dispersers and the females of Shiyane dispersers, Raqui went by herself to seek another group that might accept her as a pack member.[caption id="attachment_2469" align="aligncenter" width="671"] Wild dogs walking in indian line, this is the result of the merging of Shiyane and Ume dispersers[/caption]Latest news about the Alfie’s Pack!We found Alfie’s Pack on the 13th January 2013 - more than two months after the last sighting. The sighting was in the middle of the park - not far from our camp - and they were all in good body condition. The only surprise was that the two females, Chase and Fifi, were missing, but replaced by two other females from Ume dispersers, Shirley and Dingo. We had the pleasure of viewing the scent-marking on the same spot by the alpha-pair of the pack, namely Alfie and Brodie.[caption id="attachment_2471" align="aligncenter" width="678"] Alfie and Brodie, the alpha-pair of Alfie's Pack, scent-marking the same spot[/caption]

Help us continue to protect Alfie, Bruce and the rest of the Wild Dogs in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park


Antoine Marchal | Endangered Wildlife Monitor | iMfolozi Camp