It’s considered a very good day in the bush for most wildlife enthusiasts if they manage to spot a rare or elusive animal. It’s also very exciting to see babies in the wild, so to combine both into one sighting is a real highlight for our guides and guests. This is exactly what happened on a recent game drive in Singita Pamushana in Zimbabwe, when field guide Jenny Hishin came across a family of highly endangered African wild dogs and their pups.
The importance of a sighting like this is better understood when you learn that there are only an estimated 6 600 adults left in the wild. Habitat degradation, disease and human persecution threaten to wipe out these highly intelligent and social animals. The fact that they are breeding in the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve and its surrounds is very encouraging. This litter was born during the winter to the alpha pair in the pack, in the shelter of a rocky area of a sandstone ridge, where they have then been safeguarded by the other members of the group.
The 130 000 acre reserve in southeastern Zimbabwe offers endangered animals like the African wild dog a pristine habitat in which to flourish. The role of Singita Pamushana Lodge is to help foster the sustainability of the wildlife and broader ecology in the region, while each guest who visits makes a positive impact to this incredibly beautiful land and dynamic community.
Our monthly Wildlife Reports are a source of delightful photos and anecdotes, and a great place to keep up to date with news of the wild dogs and other wildlife on Singita’s properties. You can also visit our site to find out more about conservation at the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, which is home to Singita Pamushana Lodge.
Zimbabwe boasts one of the largest African wild dog populations; over several hundred dogs can be found in the country’s national parks. Although once considered a pest, the “painted dog” is now highly endangered and they have become a symbol of pride in Zimbabwe, with the population almost doubling in recent years.
During our recent visit to Singita Pamushana Lodge, we were fortunate enough to witness a rare sighting of these cursorial predators. It is estimated that there are only six hundred to a thousand individual packs left on the continent and their lack of numbers coupled with the massive territories they occupy make sightings extremely gratifying.
Wild dogs can achieve a speed of up to 55km/h and maintain that speed for several kilometers, making it very difficult to keep up with them when hunting. They are incredibly efficient hunters, using both their intelligence and co-operation to ensure a successful kill and will literally run their prey to the ground. No two wild dogs are marked exactly the same, making it easy to identify individuals within a group. They are fascinating animals to observe and it always special to watch them interact with fellow pack members while enjoying their painted beauty.
Unfortunately the gradual disappearance of their natural habitat and outbreaks of viral diseases such as rabies and distemper makes them vulnerable to extinction. The preservation of the African wild dog population depends on the size of the region in which they can live and conserved areas, such as the 120 000 acres of the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, provide sanctuary for these beautiful animals.
Follow field guide James Suter as he explores the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve in Zimbabwe and reports on the spectacular plants and animals he encounters. Some of his recent posts from the reserve include a spectacular cheetah sighting and tracking the local hyena clans.
Visiting Singita is always an unforgettable experience and for many guests, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Africa in a very special way. It is especially gratifying for us when guests stay in touch with the lodge teams once they have returned home and share their astounding photographs of the trip.
Jeff Thompson and his wife Julie visited Singita Pamushana Lodge from Atlanta twice last year with a keen eye for unusual photo opportunities. Here is a selection of his gorgeous wildlife pictures, taken throughout the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve surrounding the lodge. We hope you enjoy these photos and would love for you to share your own shots of Singita with us by visiting our Facebook page or getting in touch on the website.
© All photographs copyright Jeff Thompson 2013