By Louis Strauss
Jock Safari Lodge General Manager
Every year I sponsor a few competitions amongst the Rangers at Jock. The big one is who can find the wild dog den site?
The Jock wild dogs use the granite rocky outcrops on the concession to den for three months every year. Three months after being conceived the alpha female (and sometimes a second female) lie down in the den and give birth to up to 16 pups.
The puppies begin to be weaned at 2 weeks and after 10 weeks are completely independent of their mother’s milk. The puppies are left in the den where they are watched by fellow wild dogs that act as pup minders, whilst the rest of the pack goes hunting. The other dogs will return to the den and regurgitate food from their kill for the pups and the minders. After three months the pups are strong enough to leave the den and join the pack in their nomadic lifestyle.
It is very exciting to have wild dogs and their new pups on the concession as they are an endangered species. It’s a tough life for the wild dog: their pups fall prey to other predators; the wild dogs’ family structure is vulnerable to deadly diseases such as rabies; their habitat is being diminished and they were long thought to be cruel hunters and pests and were actively hunted, all of which adds to the low species numbers.
This year our “Master Tracker” Ranger Patrick Sithole found the site again. Well done to Patrick for finding them after days of tracking!
The guides are pleased to report successful daily sightings of the wild dogs and with a bit of luck they will show the pups to us in a few weeks time. Hopefully this is the start to a new enlarged wild dog pack that will roam in and around the Jock concession.