The African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus) which also goes by the names Cape Hunting dog or Painted Dog, is a highly endangered species. Threats to these animals include persecution by man, susceptibility to diseases like rabies and loss of their natural habitat. Wild Dog populations also suffer losses through clan clashes and other predator attacks, such as from Lion. There is now an intensive push to conserve and protect these amazing animals for future generations.
We are excited to report that the resident pack of Wild Dog in the Madikwe Reserve expanded last year with 8 pups being born! Unfortunately, nature is cruel and three pups have already been lost, possibly due to conflict with Brown Hyenas, which are another predatory threat. The surviving five pups are taking full advantage of the Impala birthing season (which started in December) as Impala calves are an important food source for the Wild Dogs.
Spotting Wild Dog is very special and many reserves do not have this species. However, visitors to Morukuru Family could get a chance to see the pack of Wild Dogs and the cubs. These animals have a well-earned reputation of being allusive to safari-goers, but Madikwe is well-known for excellent sightings. The reasons Wild Dogs can be tricky to spot are that they don’t keep to a defined territory and travel vast distances in a single day. Wild Dogs are very sociable animals and packs are made up of between five and fifteen members. There is a strictly defined social hierarchy within each pack, led by an alpha male or female. Bonds between all members are very close, with co-operative hunting, food sharing and care for any pups as well as injured or sick pack members. Wild Dogs are rated as excellent hunters and often are more successful than the Lion or Hyena. It’s no surprise that Wild Dogs have found their way onto a special list called the “Super 7” which includes Cheetah as well as the traditional Big Five animals; Elephant, Lion, Buffalo, Leopard and Rhino.
With the beginning of a new decade, we are all looking forward to the continued expansion of the Wild Dogs of Madikwe – with 2020 hopefully delivering another pack of pups. These long-legged canines, with the unusual feature of only four toes per foot, are the inspiration behind another project at Morukuru Family. Owners’ House and River House are in the process of being reimagined with all-new interiors, which draw on the unique colouring of the Wild Dog. Visitors to Morukuru in 2020 can experience this makeover which echoes the pelts of the Wild Dog with their very special colouring and markings, as well as hopefully some new Wild Dog pups