Delightful news for the month of March is that we’ve welcomed the return of a pack of seven wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) to our reserve. They moved from the vast Gonarezhou reserve that is south of us, and we hope they remain on Malilangwe for a while.
Wild dogs are the masters of dispersal. They can move huge distances in search of mates and the longest straight-line dispersal recorded is 476 kilometres from the Northern Tuli Game Reserve (where South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana meet) to Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.
We noticed something unusual about this male cheetah hunting alongside his sister – his one eye was a misty blue. It became apparent that the young male was completely blind in his left eye. We had not seen this pair before – they could have arrived here from a neighbouring reserve. There are so many possible causes for him being blind – a genetic defect, a claw from a sibling, a twig from a tree, an injury from a rival predator, venom from a snake – who knows…
When you see an adult male and female cheetah together it is safe to assume they are mother and her full-grown cub, a mating pair or a brother and sister. These two were of the same age and were not a mating pair, so they must be siblings that had left their mother and, in due course, will part ways with each other as well. It will be interesting to see how this partially sighted cheetah copes on his own. They have excellent eyesight for daytime hunting, and can spot prey species several kilometres away. Will he be able to survive without his sister – and is this why he has stayed with her for so long?