It’s Monday 13th November 2006 and Wild Dogs and Storms


It’s Monday 13th November 2006 and Wild Dogs and Storms

storm Yet another week has gone by in the blistering heat, animals becoming tetchy and bad tempered with the lack of food adding to their demise. We were beginning to wonder if we would ever see the rain but without fail as if the magical spell was broken, two days ago the massive thunder heads started to form. With unwavering trust the animals have started their annual ritual of dropping their seasonal youngsters. Herds of baby impala and scores of baby warthogs have begun emerging. This has spurred on the excitement of the arrival of the rain. I must admit though, I did begin to wonder if nature had got it wrong but finally yesterday the heavens opened on a monumental basis – high winds, dust storms and finally the rain, transformed the landscape into mud and water signifying the end of yet another long dry season.

frisky elephantlion heads

Apart from the excitement of the first rain there have been a number of other significant happenings. The game viewing has been phenomenal with lion and leopard sightings being a particular high and the sighting of yet another aardvark on the RPS land. Once again true to form the wild dogs made their momentary appearance for this time of the year youngsters in tow. For the unfortunate two, Kelly was poised for them and seized the opportunity to use her new dart gun. This is the story of what happened…..

From Dr. Dog herself:

We spent a busy day last Wednesday collaring another pack of wild dogs!! We had spent the last week tracking the ‘malfunctioning-collar-pack’ that had been sitting in the Kapamba River for two weeks, in the hope of replacing the collar, but of course they took off as soon as the vet was free to come up. So, after spending Tuesday looking around Lupunga Spur and the main Mfuwe safari area for a different pack, which was due down from denning anytime now, I gave up and cancelled the vet’s Wednesday flight. Then true to form, first thing Wednesday morning I get a message from Emily that dogs were sighted on Lupunga Spur, and after many frantic SMS messages I managed to get the vet back on the flight and up here to help out.

dog escaping I was very glad to have an experienced game capture vet along again this time. Just when I thought we had a reliable drug protocol and the whole thing was getting easy after the last four dogs we immobilised, the dogs completely misbehaved. The first dog never went down properly after darting, so we had to jump on him and hold him down to put the collar on. My first time wrestling a wild dog! And for all my efforts, I still smell like one! The bonus was a very quick recovery as he was back with the pack as soon as we let him up. Then the second dog took three darts before she went down, and ended up with a double dose. So she had a long and wobbly recovery with a lot of Stevie Wonder head movements, and instead of trotting off to rejoin the pack as expected she kept heading for the treeline and sleeping by herself. I am always worried until the dog rejoins the pack and is safe, as they can get into trouble with hyenas or lions – so we spent an additional 4 hours watching her. Eventually she snuck out of sight and did a wide circle through the bush and was back with the pack by 9.30 that night. After taking a blood sample we realised why she was so sleepy, it was chock-full of fat from all the impala they had been eating – no wonder she needed a longer siesta.

putting on a collardog - closepups runningdog pack

It was a very long day, and I am still wearing a big grin because we have collared the third group of dogs in this area before the end of season. We collared this pack in May but the dispersing group took all the collars with them so we had no idea where the main pack denned this year, little rascals!

The battle of the wits between study animals and researcher continues. No doubt there will be more frustrations and stories on the wild dog research front next year. Kelly is to take a well earned break back in Australia for the next couple of months.

This is all for another week. Jo, Robin and Kimmie come back from WTM this week and no doubt stories of their happenings in the concrete jungle will ensue. I should imagine you shall be saved from these!

Stay well,

Rob

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