We have been wildly entertained by Painted Dog this past month who seem to enjoy the open plains offered on the Hide’s private concession. Our guests got to see the Nyamandlovu dogs hunting wildebeest, which was quite an incredible sight. This pack has seen highs and lows over the last few years. In June 2014 we witnessed the birth of 9 puppies adding to the already 11 strong pack making a total of 20 dogs. Over the months we received reports that a number of the dogs had been killed and in December a further 4 dogs separated from the pack comprising a female and three males who have since been frequently seen around the Makwa area. I last saw the Nyamandlovu pack at Tshebetshebe pan, a good 46km from The Hide where we counted 11 individuals. From what I could see 3 puppies remain of the original 9.
The pack is still strong and have a large number of individuals to assist with day to day hunting. Their future for now looks good. The painted dog is not related to the domestic dog, it is essentially an “african wolf” having evolved in Africa. Being a part of the apex predators, they have enormous day to day challenges as they struggle to secure food and stay out of trouble. Although highly endangered and specially protected in Zimbabwe they have been accused of killing livestock and are hugely unpopular on the game ranches.
Members of the pack are closely knit. The pack is made up of an alpha male and female the other pack members are non breeding participants and will eat up to 30kgs of meat and will return to the den site where they will regurgitate some of it to feed the puppies. In cases where a dog has been caught in a snare they have been known to stay in the area and feed the incapacitated dog. In cases of rabies the whole pack has been known to be affected as they will not fight each other but will rather cower and be bitten by the affected dog. The Apex predators regarded as the main carnivores are the Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Hyena and The Painted Dogs compete with each other for food and will kill each others cubs and pups thus to alleviate further competition. Due to this the dogs often will be stalked by Lions and killed whenever possible.
By David Amyot, Professional Guide