Game reserve welcomes first wild dog pups in a decade

Londolozi Private Game Reserve has had no wild dog births since 2010. Recently a healthy litter of 10 beautiful pups was born and the new arrivals are reason to celebrate, as painted wolves are listed as endangered on the IUCN’s Red List. These animals are also South Africa’s most endangered large carnivores.

Game ranger James Tyrrell came across the pack after days of looking for the female who was keeping herself scarce. She had been heavily pregnant when he last saw her and he knew it was almost time. This birth is extra special as wild dogs are becoming increasingly threatened throughout Africa.

‘Although it’s sad that this happened during the lockdown, when so many guests from around the world could be enjoying such an amazing spectacle, the reality is this story isn’t about us, it’s about the pack,’ he said on the reserve’s blog. ‘With fewer than 500 wild dogs left in South Africa, this tiny pack (who are understood to be the second pack to give birth in the country this year) have given their species something they – and I suppose all of us – desperately need: hope.

‘Regular visits to the den since then have shown amazing growth in the pups, and a trail camera placed discreetly watching over the den’s entrance has revealed some fascinating behavior, much of which we’ll be sharing over the next few weeks,’ he added.

Across the African continent, the wild dog population is estimated between 3,000 – 5,000 individuals, according to Endangered Wildlife Trust.

Wild dogs are endangered for a number of reasons. Human-wildlife conflict and habitat fragmentation are major contributing factors. The natural habitat of the dogs have been made smaller due to farming. Wild dogs will unknowingly wander onto a farm and in order to protect livestock, farmers will kill them.

Wild dogs are also susceptible to diseases like rabies and distemper which are detrimental to the already fragile population.