The privilege of puppies

Sabi Sand | August 2020

The African wild dog is often the less known of our continent’s apex predators, yet is probably one of the most exciting and, sadly, critically endangered of them all. Naturally the largest threat to the wild dog is lions but an even larger issue for them is the conflict with man and habitat loss. As human populations grow, leading to agriculture, settlements, and roads, wild dogs are losing the wild spaces they used to roam in freely. Today it is estimated that there are less than 6 500 of them roaming free.

For four years running the guides of Singita Sabi Sand have been absolutely spoilt with a pack of these incredible animals repeatedly choosing our conservation area as a suitable den-site and hunting ground. The pack currently consists of 13 adults and 11 thriving pups which were born somewhere in the middle of June this year making them roughly two and a half months old now. It is amazing when you consider that makes 24 wild dogs in a population of approximately 450 in the Greater Kruger National Park, right here at Singita. These large litters very seldom make it to adulthood, succumbing to cold, starvation, disease and predation. But right now they are alive and well and with a large supporting pack of adults they have a far better chance of surviving than a smaller pack with less numbers to defend and support the little ones.

It has been our responsibility as guides to closely monitor this pack and report all findings and identifications we discover to the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), an organization which plays a big role in the protection of the African wild dog here in the Kruger National Park. Everything is being done to give these remarkable predators a chance at growing their numbers again in very testing conditions. Packs are constantly vaccinated against diseases they may pick up and we are always keeping tabs on their movements and behaviour to better understand them. It will remain a big challenge for this pack and their pups to survive over the coming months but is also very exciting, and we just are so privileged to have them here and for us as conservationists at heart to be able to contribute towards the survival of one of Africa’s most treasured creatures.