Wild dogs at AfriCat


After spending the last eight months in a 3ha enclosure at the AfriCat Carnivore Care Center, Team FIFA took the next step as part of their rehabilitation programme and were moved to ALCATRAZ – a 5ha recovery enclosure situated in the 20 000 ha Okonjima Nature Reserve. This is the same camp from which Dizzy and her cubs were recently released from (a bit of a ‘chess-game’ here at AfriCat at the moment) In preparation for the big move, a fence was erected a few weeks ago that separates Alcatraz into a 2 ha and 3 ha large area, which gives us the opportunity to place the puppies MESSI, JOGI and ROBIN (which are nearly 1 year of age, therefore technically no longer considered to be puppies) on one side, and our last remaining, elderly, wild dog ladies, RICKY and RAINE , who are now in their 10th year, on the other side. The ultimate goal is to unite AfriCat’s new wild dog generation with our existing pack. What are the chances  that RICKY and RAINE will accept new members to their pack – we are not 100% sure. Theory says the smaller the pack, the better the chances that additional members will be recruited . . . ? Pack augmentation benefits factors such as reproduction, improved foraging efficiency and pack and individual persistence. Due to the fact that our new pack only consist of three members, chances might be good that they will accept our three orphans? transporting the wild dogsThis Thursday MESSI, JOGI and ROBIN were finally transported to their new home. In order to avoid additional stress for the three dogs, we forewent the usual procedure of darting and anaesthetizing them, but instead caught them all together in a darkened, box-trap suitable for transport. Once they arrived at their new destination, the dogs were released immediately and didn’t hesitate a second before they started the investigation of their new home. – Thank you Okonjima for helping us and carrying that large and heavy box-trap. Then because we also wanted to avoid darting RICKY and RAINE in order to place them alongside the pups, instead we thought we’d lure them into the camp once the two females got close enough to Alcatraz – this we thought would take a few days, giving team FIFA some time to adjust to their new home . . . well that was the plan, and we were prepared for the time needed for the older girls to get closer to the area . . . . but not even 12 hours later, RICKY and RAINE were found at Alcatraz – curiously inspecting the three young dogs on the other side. The high-pitched sounds of wild dogs travel over large distances and must have alerted and attracted the two females, which remained close to the camp for the following few days. both groups of wild dogs investigating each other Showing very little aggressive behavior – but the sounds made by RICKY and RAINE are not familiar to us and wild dogs do not have the clear ‘body-language’ carnivores have. RICKY and RAINE were seen the previous day approximately 4 km – 10km away from Alcatraz. On Sunday we lured the 2 females into the camp to initiate and support the bonding-progress. Live cameras have been installed to monitor their interactions 24/7. Up to now, the elderly females are the ones who are initiating the encounters through the fence and who are making the unfamiliar ‘whining’ sounds – possibly a sign of submission, or parental/guardian instinct? Both groups remain close to the fence line and thus, close to each other. wild dogs at AfriCat It is said that bonding between two unrelated packs occurred when the members of the different packs start sleeping in close proximity to each other, but we have hit a freezing spell – this morning below zero deg C – and now we need to make some or other plan for ‘warmer accommodation’ on each side of the separating fence to encourage the bonding process . . . nothing is ever as easy as you might of thought it would be. The Wild Dogs – Part 2: Team FIFA and The Wild Dog Management Plan 2014 / 2015



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