The AfriCat Wild Dogs – Messi, Jogi and Robin
A successful integration
After the successful integration of our 10-year old wild female dog, Ricky, into the pack FIFA, which consists of the three orphaned pups Jogi, Messi and Robin, the newly established pack are finally roaming every corner of the 20 000 ha Okonjima Nature Reserve!
See: An attempt of social integration of two unrelated wild dog packs and re-introduction in the Okonjima Nature Reserve
and The Wild Dogs – Part 2: Team FIFA and The Wild Dog Management Plan 2014 / 2015
With Ricky being an experienced and skillful hunter, Team FIFA quickly learned and adapted to the rules of the wild, and started hunting regularly after only four weeks following their release in July 2015. The rehabilitation of wild dogs often fails due to lack of hunting abilities and survival skills. However, research has shown that animals raised in captivity obtain hunting skills more rapidly when they are released with those which have also been caught in the wild, compared to a rehabilitated group which solely consists of animals reared in captivity. Ricky, by definition, not exactly a ‘wild caught’ individual, but rather had been raised in captivity, and subsequently rehabilitated into the wild together with her siblings Rex, Ruby and Raine played a crucial role in teaching the young, wild and inexperienced dogs lessons of the bush, and had a strong impact in making them the successful hunters they are today.
The dogs quickly developed a preference for warthogs, but were just as successful when it came to subduing larger prey such as kudu, oryx or juvenile eland. Despite her importance in the pack, Ricky remained the lowest ranking member and was often deprived of food if there was not enough available. As she was older, and looked almost skinny, we provided her with occasional supplemental food. A deformation of her left front foot – a remnant from a fractured ankle in her early years – and its’ associated pain predicts that, in the long-term, Ricky will struggle to keep up with her young and energetic companions – who effortlessly cover distances of up to 10 kilometers per day. However, to all our surprise during all these months, Ricky wasn’t once found lost or looking for her mates, instead Jogi, Messi and Robin were the ones waiting for her, in case she fell behind!