Text: Dave Landey | Photographs: Dave Landey and Matt Meyer
In May, the idea of potentially having a cape hunting dog densite on MalaMala was an exciting one. The levels of excitement were bumped up a notch when this suspicion was confirmed in early June. The pack of 13, which are easily characterised by the older males shorter tail and floppy ears, were not the only members of the pack that were seen during June.
In the first week of the month five of the newest members of this pack were seen, however the first few sightings of these puppies were quite brief. It was not long before they started venturing out of their den more frequently, and towards the middle of June these puppies were being seen on a more regular basis. Due to the cape hunting dogs’ hyper-metabolic rate they need to feed fairly regularly, especially because there are a few more mouths to feed. From time to time we have fortunate enough to witness the hunters returning from a successful venture and regurgitating some of their quarry for the young ones as well as for those who stayed behind.
The individuals, who do not go out hunting, choose different vantage points scattered around the densite. These sentinels take their roles very seriously, lifting their heads and perking their ears if anything piques their interest. At the first sign of any potential danger they will deliver anything from a low growl to a bark – all such warnings are heeded instantaneously by the puppies who will scamper back into the safe haven of their den.
Along with the sentinels, the alpha female will remain at the densite with her offspring while the other pack members head out to go and hunt. Getting a meal is high up on the agenda, however these lively animals will often take a moment to ‘play’ with others. Often this frolicsome behaviour goes unappreciated, as they leave a trail of mayhem in their path.
The most recent count of all of the animals in this pack is 25. 13 adults and 5 puppies, which we see fairly often, giving us a total of 18 – why the count of 25 you ask? Well, more recently we have seen seven confirmed, even younger puppies, who are assumed to be born by the beta female. These puppies are about half the size of the original five and appear to have been adopted by the alpha female.