Status Report on Painted Dogs of Mana Pools, July 2020 Nick Murray, BC President
- 35 dogs sighted in the south eastern section of Mana – Nyamawani. These dogs certainly use Chewore; for many years there has been a big pack in central Chewore.
- 16 sighted on the southern boundary road
- Pack of 6 or 7 reported by Kavinga camp
- 13 were sighted by me, one month ago near Kanga camp. We are calling it the Dandawa pack.
- 9 adults and 7pups in the Nyakasanga pack
- 3 adults in Ilala pack plus new pups
Here is a video from July 2020 of Violet/Nyakasanga pack’s new puppies.
There is a concern now about inbreeding of the painted dogs. Why are the dogs from inland not dispersing into the area along the Zambezi, as they have done in previous years? This is another question Zimparks hopes to answer through the Carnivore Project. In the Nyakasanga pack in 2019 Jiani (father) bred with Violet – there is photographic evidence of them mating. Jiani was killed by lions before the denning season took place. In 2020, Violet’s brother, Sarge is her mate. The pups all look very healthy at this stage, with no visible deformities. The demography and population status of Lions (Panthera leo) in the Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe by Norman John Monks.
By way of sharing history of the past 5 years of the dog movements of the floodplains of Mana Pools, here is the family tree.
- In 2016, Chiwenga pack dispersed to Chewore Mouth, and Janet the alpha female died (Tait’s 2008 daughter).
- Early 2016, Nyamatusi pack evolved from 7 males from the Nyakasanga Pack and 7 females from the Vundu pack.
- In 2019, Blacktip, alpha female of Nyakasanga pack died, as did her mate Jiani. This left Violet as the alpha female. This is the evolutionary line of dogs whose dens I have been visiting for the past 17 years consecutively. The Nyakasanga pack is now 9 adults strong and 7 pups at the den.
The Nyamatusi pack I filmed at the den in 2016, were featured for the BBC Dynasties series. Tammy had 7 healthy pups and 7 healthy pups left the den. In 2017, she had 7 pups and 7 again, in 2018. In 2019, Tammy had 10 pups. All these pups were killed by predators, as were all the adults, bar one. The Nyamatusi pack lost 44 dogs in 4 years. The only people visiting the den in 2017, 2018 and 2019 were researchers.
One of the speculations is that the filming of wildlife documentaries may be disturbing the packs. Many people will have seen the BBC Earth Dynasties series, which was filmed in Mana Pools. The series was narrated by Sir David Attenborough. As you would expect, the BBC Earth film crew and Sir David were very ethical professionals, who put the wellbeing and longevity of animals first. All filming was done with a Zimbabwe National Parks Ranger present to ensure the production followed Zimparks regulations. We can confidently say that this series did not affect the population of these two painted dog packs. The BBC Earth series has raised the profile of painted dogs across the world. All other film crews we have guided since have followed the same protocols of ethics and professionalism, under Zimparks monitoring.