The beginning of life

Sabi Sand | August 2019

It’s that time of year again when the wild dogs are denning and extending their numbers. For the last three years we have been very fortunate with the fact that there has been a resident pack of wild dogs that have denned on the property. It is possibly one of the most incredible things to witness in the African wilderness – being able to watch these young pups grow into adults and see them facing the dangers of life in bush. From watching the adults returning from a hunt to regurgitate for the new additions, to seeing the little pups roam around the den with the curiosity of what lies out beyond the den, is a humbling yet exhilarating experience.

They have sent us on a bit of a goose chase as they have already moved dens, this is done due to the high parasite build up within one particular den-site and to ensure that the pups do not pick up any unwanted parasites that may jeopardize their lives at such an early stage. They are growing up so quickly and it is truly amazing to notice the development of their coats and their individual markings and colours.

We recently had guests that are avid safari goers and were very interested in seeing the new pups. We knew that it would take a lot of patience and downtime at the den, just waiting for that incredible moment, hoping for one of the pups to come out of the den’s entrance. We spent two afternoons at the den-site waiting and waiting, luckily we still had an amazing time as the full complement of the pack were there and giving a full show playing around.

The afternoon it all happened, we departed the lodge early so that we could have the time to get to the den and decided this was the afternoon to hunker down. We left for our drive to firstly cross through the Sand River where the river has slowed and the pools are smaller. As we drove through we had an amazing sighting of about 15 hippos returning to the water after the heat of the day, as well as a number of bird species flying about. We crossed the river and made our way further north towards the den. We got to the start of the off-roading section, and when we arrived at the den and we saw that the nine adults were present and we could hear the new pups calling from inside the den. This was the first time we could hear the pups. The alfa female got up and made her way towards the entrance only to lie down. You could see that the pups had recently nursed from her, but we waited and waited and, just as the sun was setting, and we were about to leave they presented themselves. Wow! Three of the small pups fell out of the den and the excitement erupted from both the rest of the pack and with us. The other pack members immediately came over to great the three little ones and then continued to play with them. The alfa female then had enough and thought it was time to take the pups back inside. She picked them up by the back of their necks and returned them to the inside of the den.

This was one of the most special sightings that I have witnessed out in the true African wilderness here at Singita Sabi Sands.