Friday, 17 December 2010
WILD DOG - Sighted on Masai Mara. At camp used by Busanga safaris.
The Mara is a spectacular wildlife destination and we are all familiar with the Lions, Leopards and Cheetahs from a myriad wildlife documentaries or if you have been lucky enough to visit the Mara already. But never seen on TV or otherwise since the 80s,s were its wild dog. These animals need huge ranges and the vast plains were ideal hunting grounds. Sadly, distemper, encroachment, domestic animals and ignorance led to their extirpation from the Mara ecosystem.
In 2008 there were rumours of a return of Wild dogs to the Masai Mara. Kicheche Mara Camp's manager, Jarrod Kyte, does not go in for rumour and hearsay, and nor do his guides, but after spending an afternoon in the Lemek Hills they were astonished to find a pack. The pack appear to have been transient animals and they were not seen again, although there was little doubt that a small number had returned permanently, though they were holed up in the close cover of the hills and escarpments of the Northern Mara and were highly elusive. This find had a remarkable effect on Kicheche's Masai staff, many of whom had grown up with the Wild dogs and were enchanted by them. Sadly though, there were no other sightings for over a year, until December 2010.
Wild dog kill
Kicheche Mara's head guide, Daniel Ntoyian, was returning from a local airstrip transfer. Right outside Kicheche camp he spotted two dogs. Hunting. Wild dogs do not ambush their prey like the other principal predators; they are coursing animals, like jackals and hyenas, and will chase prey for many miles to exhaust them. In this case they had singled out a Thomson's gazelle fawn and ran it down in quick time.
Daniel and his two now breathless passengers witnessed the hunt start to Finnish.
For some reason the Mara is not very busy in November and early December, although we always say it is worth a visit at any time, the dogs may know this which might explain why they were on the open grasslands. But to find them in hunting,is astonishing and pretty much the hardest wildlife currency anywhere. Many said it would never be seen again - they've clearly never stayed at Kicheche.Another of Busanga safaris recommended camps and the base for our Mara Bush camp Safari.
African Wild dogs, also sometimes called African Hunting dogs or Painted dogs, are pack animals. Each pack has male and female hierarchies; the oldest females are the alpha dogs, but for the males, the situation is more variable. Only the alpha female will produce litters, sometimes very large ones, with as many as 15 or even more sometimes recorded, though 10 is a more usual number. The whole pack is tasked with feeding and protecting the litter.
Why not visit our kenya safaris page and discover what great safaris can be had on the Mara.
This news was brought to us by our friends at Wildlife Extra and Kicheche Safari camp