Things have been completely non-stop here lately! If you follow the Karingani social media pages @karinganimozambique, you are probably pretty up-to-date, but if you don’t then go follow them! One of my jobs here is managing the social media accounts so all those post you see from Karingani and most of the photos are my doing. 😊 But if you are slacking behind – in the past week plus we have darted a lion three times (once to administer a TB test, once to check the results of the TB test and finally when he was confirmed negative for TB, we were able to pack him up and ship him out of here). I have a whole story written up about that particular lion’s story, but you will either have to check out Karingani’s pages or wait until I can post the full blog.
Also last week, we caught up with the Mbilu wild dog pack who have two of the females (alpha female, Albie and beta female, Nonisa) currently denning! Wild dogs typically give birth to 8-12 puppies each year around May-July. Generally, the alpha female will be the only one to breed each year. However, occasionally another female, often the beta (second in rank), will fall pregnant as well. Depending on the pack dynamics, prey availability and other factors researchers are still investigating, if a non-alpha female gives birth to puppies, one of four things usually happens – 1) the litter is killed by the pack, 2) the alpha female ‘adopts’ the puppies and raises them alongside her own, 3) the beta female splits from the pack with one or more other pack members and starts her own pack, or 4) the female is allowed to raise her litter along with the pack. Now while these scenarios are not necessarily set in stone, nothing truly is when it comes to wild dogs, they are the most commonly recorded scenarios through observation.
I am anxious to find out more information about the Mbilu pack dynamics with both Albie and Noni having pups. But since we found the den site only about one or two weeks after the pack had settled, we did not want to push too much and had work to do, so we kept as far away from the actually dens as we could. We darted the pack’s alpha (and only) male, Lightning to place a satellite tracking collar on him.
The pack will generally stay at the same den site until the puppies are mobile enough to move on their own and then eventually the entire pack will relocate to a new den site. This helps prevent flea infestations as well as protects the young pups from being discovered by other carnivores which might try and kill them. Having both Albie and Lightning with satellite collars will allow us to be able to track the pack even if they do move den sites. I am really hoping to get back to the den once the puppies are a little bit older and see how many puppies there are and what the pack dynamics are like with the puppies. The alpha female, Albie and some of her daughters are quite special dogs to me. They were the very first wild dogs that I had ever seen and worked with! I helped move and collar Albie and pack back in 2017 in Tembe Elephant Park in South Africa! How cool is that? Small world, hey?
And of course, I am sure you are wanting a new Hedwig update. She is doing great, getting even fatter and fluffier if that is possible! I am so amazed by how far she has come. She is now standing and hobbling around pretty efficiently as well! She can also now eat two whole (well chopped up) but two flipping mice at her big feedings, she is most definitely no longer lacking an appetite!
Also I need to add a disclaimer for those following this blog via email subscription… my WiFi here is very poopy and so the easiest way for me to share blogs that have photos that I have taken with my phone is to first publish the blog and then go back on my phone and edit it, but that means those of you reading in your e-mails or who are REALLY fast as checking out my latest post might miss some or all of the photos. I have tried saving just as a draft and not publishing but for some stupid reason my phone says no to that idea. So, I suggest giving it a few minutes and actually clicking to go to the blog page instead of just checking out the email version. Sorry if that makes things difficult.
Then there are days like today and I cannot get the dangnabbit WordPress app to work at all so you are going to have to deal with the photos in here until probably tomorrow. Sorry about that.