It was during our morning drive that we came across fresh tracks of the wild dogs in the Nhoro area, on the northern side of the reserve. The tracks told us they were moving in a southerly direction, and with the sun already heating during this time of the day we knew that it would not be long before they would take a rest in an area that has some water and shade. The tracks kept on heading south and we thought that with plenty of water at Sosiji Dam this could be the area they were heading. But, to our surprise, there was no sign of them there.
Having done a thorough look around the dam we went on, and later saw tracks heading in an easterly direction towards the Manyuchi area. We knew that the pan there would be our best bet to check for them, and as we arrived we were rewarded with the whole pack of 17 wild dogs all scattered around the pan. Some were lying down in the shade of the mopani trees whilst some were at the water’s edge in the mud. It’s interesting to see how the pups lie in one group, and the adults lie in another.
During this time of the year with temperatures being very high, this species tends to be most active at first light as they hunt when it’s still cool. They get exhausted quickly in the sun, so as it heats up they take advantage of the shade and the different watering holes. In so doing they conserve energy for another hunt in the late afternoon when the temperatures drop.
It was such a great sighting to see them coating their bellies and paws in the mud – in so doing I think they get rid of annoying ectoparasites as the ticks will drop off together with the mud when it dries.
We left them at the same site for their midday nap as we headed back to the lodge for brunch.