Wild dog mother calls her puppies for long-awaited playtime session
Together with the Ethiopian wolf, the African wild dog is the rarest carnivore on the African continent. These fascinating creatures live a nomadic lifestyle, covering massive distances on a daily basis while hunting together as a pack. This makes it incredibly difficult to find them and you will be very lucky to spot any African wild dogs while on safari in the African wild. During a recent safari in the Kruger National Park, we were treated to a once in a life time sighting when we came across a den where a pack of African wild dogs were breeding.
Finding these animals in the wild is an incredible experience but we were totally stunned when we came across their breeding den sight. The pack of dogs were resting in the nearby shade while the mother was nearby the den. These den sights are usually located in old burrows inside termite mounds. We stopped at a safe distance and waited, hoping that the puppies would show themselves. After waiting with great anticipation for a good twenty minutes, the mother wild dog suddenly got up and walked straight to the entrance of the den. We could hear she was calling softly and the next moment a whole bunch of the most adorable puppies came bursting out of the burrow. They were super excited to get out and very energetic at the same time. There were sixteen puppies and they were about 3 weeks old. During their first few weeks of their lives, wild dog pups are only allowed out of the den around three times a day during which they get fed and have time to play, getting some exercise at the same time.
This limited time out of the den is for their own protection as their play time outside is usually chaotic and noisy, potentially drawing the attention of other dangerous predators such as hyenas which will kill the pups without hesitation. Once the puppies were let out the den, serious play time ensued. There were puppies everywhere and it was chaotic. Some were running up and down, many were chewing on something, be it a branch or their brother’s tale. One pup even fell down the burrow while chasing another one and a few spend the time wrestling and biting each other in a playful manner. We could see these puppies had the time of their lives and so did we. There was just so much interaction between all the pups at once, we didn’t know where to look. This was definitely one of my most remarkable sights ever in the African wild. To see such rare creatures and their young interacting in their natural environment was just a priceless experience.