Part 3...African Wild Dog Day!...If you think the Big Five is something...How about the "Ridiculous Nine!!!...Day spent in Kruger with friends!

"The African wild dog is an endangered species, with only four remaining populations in Africa, one of which is Kruger. Their survival is dependent on the pack. A wild dog by itself is not that much of a threat to other animals, but a pack is a different story."
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Not all "Sightings of the Day in the Bush" are heartwarming and happy.  See below for details.
Today, this very ill male kudu stopped by for pellets.  His legs are deformed and he's very ill-looking and undernourished.  Most likely, he has contracted bovine tuberculosis.  
"Wild dogs have the most structured social order of the carnivores, living in packs led by a dominant male and female. All other members of the pack play a subordinate role to the alpha pair."
Immediately we contacted one the Marloth Park Rangers and within minutes a ranger pulled into the driveway.  We were relieved to have a professional come to investigate.
"Wild dogs tend to shy away from areas dominated by lion and hyaena. There are an estimated 200 wild dogs in Kruger, so seeing them is a matter of luck. They can roam over long distances - up to 250 square kilometers - and may travel over 50km in a single day looking for food. They are most commonly seen in the Chobe, Moremi and some in Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the Kgalagadi."
Once the ranger arrived at our property, Tom and I escorted him to the area where we believe he wandered off.  Through a stroke of pure luck, we spotted him limping through the bush.  
"Wild dogs are masters of the collective approach to hunting. A hunt begins at sunrise or sunset when the dogs perform an elaborate greeting ceremony, sniffing and licking each other, wagging their tails and twittering aloud."
Fortunately, kudus tend to stay in one general area so the ranger is confident they will find him. Tomorrow, Monday, the vet will come and based on this kudu's poor condition, he may be euthanized.  It's sad and heartbreaking but a reality of living among wildlife. 
"They make a range of chattering sounds and have a distinctive long-distance greeting call - a sharp Hoo - that can be heard up to four kilometers away. During the hunt itself, however, they are silent. Occasionally, they hunt at the full moon.'
It reminded us of Scar Face who we haven't seen in months.  It would be surprising if the injury to his face resulted in his eventual demise.  Although we do not touch the wildlife, they become very special to us, each in their unique and special way.
"Wild dogs will fan through the bush looking for a herd of antelope. More often than not, this will be an impala. Once they have located a herd, the most vulnerable member is singled out - usually a female and young antelope."
At the moment, as I attempt to complete today's post (sorry for the delay) Mr. Bushbuck is back here for the third or fourth time today.  At one point he could barely walk and again we reported it to the rangers.  
"A subordinate male wild dog usually starts the hunt by trying to isolate the animal from the rest of the herd. Once the target has been identified and separated, the alpha male takes over the lead of the hunt and the deadly endurance race begins.'
They suggested giving this handsome boy time to recover and now, weeks later, he limps but doesn't seem to be in as much pain.  These amazing animals have an uncanny ability to heal themselves, more than humans seem able to do on their own.
"If this fails, they press on with determination, taking it in relays to increase the pace, nipping and tearing at the fleeing victim each time it slows down. They literally run their quarry to exhaustion. Once the animal collapses, the dogs immediately begin feeding, even before their prey has died from loss of blood."
Now, we're back to Part 3 of our "Ridiculous Nine" sighting in Kruger Park on Friday.  The four of us are still reeling over our mind-boggling half day on a game drive in Kruger.
"Unlike hyena, which feasts noisily and chaotically, wild dogs are restrained and orderly at the kill. The young feed first, followed by the subordinate males and females, with the alpha pair eating at any time. Each dog awaits its turn, and if there is not enough food to go round, the hunt begins again."
Today, we chose to share the African wild dog story.  With a dwindling population of wild dogs throughout the world with an estimated 450 worldwide and approximately 200 in Kruger National Park, it was pure "safari luck" that enabled us to see these endangered animals.
"Subordinate females support nursing wild dog females who remain at the den. They will stuff themselves with food and then go back to the den to regurgitate the remains for the mother and her young to eat."
The captions we've included under the photos is information we gleaned from Kruger National Park's website.  See here for their link.  We feel so fortunate to have spotted these endangered dogs on our special safari day.

As for last night, we all went to Jabula for a fantastic meal, running into friends we've made in the park.  As always, the conversation, food, service, and ambiance was beyond reproach.  Of course, not surprisingly, Tom and Lois loved it.  We'll certainly be returning several times during their three-week stay.
"The average litter size for the wild dog is between four and eight puppies. They suckle for the first three months of their lives before being taught to hunt."
Tonight we're staying in on a very cool evening and enjoying our low-carb homemade pizza with a salad and yet another surely delightful evening on the veranda.
"Wild dogs hunt every day as they require more meat relative to their size than lions do. Eighty percent of their diet consists of impala, but they do attack bigger game as well, including wildebeest, kudu, waterbuck, reedbuck and sometimes zebra."
With the holidaymakers gone from the bush, we've experienced the biggest influx of wildlife visitors we've ever seen on a weekend.  Tom and Lois are loving every moment as we are as well.
"Wild dogs have often been regarded with horror by humans because of their seemingly cruel hunting techniques - death does not come quickly to the victim, which will first be run to exhaustion and then die from a loss of blood while being devoured."
Tomorrow, we'll all head to Komtipoort for breakfast at Stoep Cafe, shopping and to show Tom and Lois around the town and surrounding areas.  No doubt, it will be another wonderful day!

May your day be equally wonderful!
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Photo from one year ago today, October 14, 2017:

This is a Clay Colored Robin, the national bird of Costa Rica.  For more photos, please click here.

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