The Painted dogs of Mana Pools National Park
Painted dogs is one of the main reasons why I had to go back to Mana Pools National Park this year. I hope to go back again next year with the aim of showing this wonderful and wild place to enthusiastic photographers during a photo workshop in the wild.
Last year was a clear miss if I just look at the Painted dogs because we never saw a single one. The timing was really off and I kind of knew it as the info I had said they would be raising the pups at the den that period meaning less likelihood seeing them. Therefore, I had better hope of meeting up with the Painted dogs this year as I got there at the end of September when they pack has left the den with the young.
I also knew that the pack was around this year as Zane had another group of guests prior to my trip and they had spent time with the Painted dogs of the Vundu pack. That is the biggest of the three packs in Mana Pools and this year they were 21 adults and five pups. Sadly five surviving pups isn’t great as they tend to have bigger litters with more surviving pups. One reason might have been that the pack had moved den more times than normal which isn’t good for the survival rate of a pup.
Twice the luxury
We had the pleasure to meet the Vundu pack twice, the pictures in the gallery are from the first encounter. We also came upon Dr Greg Rasmussen whom has been studying the Painted Dogs in Zimbabwe for 20+ years. It was a real pleasure to hear his opinion on the status of the Painted Dogs in Mana Pools, but it was also sad to hear that the survival rate of adults leaving a pack are more or less zero. Still they work on a solution that hopefully will increase the survival rate of the adults that tries to form a new pack as they most often end up dead due to snares or other human related conflicts occurring when they cross the national park boundary
Our first encounter with the Vundu pack happened the second day in Mana Pools. We got the news that they were lying in the shade just by the main road not far from where we had stopped for a game walk with lions. It was before lunchtime so we went there and sat down for some time to get familiar with them before we headed back to camp for lunch and some safari siesta.
Back to the Dogs
After the 3-o’clock tea we headed back to the pack and spent the complete afternoon with them. If you know the predators of Africa, then you understand that this meant a long wait for anything to happen. Painted Dogs normally stay in shade during the hottest hours and when the temperatures get lower they wake-up, greet the pack and then go for a hunt. We get to see two thirds of this as they went back to rest after the greeting. We took advantage of this as it meant we could position ourselves flat on the ground taking pictures at the correct angle of the Painted dogs. It was a great first encounter, but it was topped by the second encounter that I will write about later on so for now I hope you will enjoy the gallery of my first sighting of the Painted dogs in Mana Pools National Park.