Wild Dog Numbers as of July 2020
I started following the wild dogs when I began guiding in Mana in 1997 and have been guiding full seasons every year since then in Mana Pools. The numbers of wild dogs in Mana Pools National Park as of July 2020, based on reports that I have received from other guides and camps, is 90 wild dogs, based on these reports:
- 35 wild dogs sighted in the South-eastern section of Mana-Nyamawani. The wild 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.
Dr Norman Monks study (2008), Warden and Ecologist, shows that approximately 50% of Mana Pools’ lions and hyenas live along the flood plain. Bearing in mind that the flood plain is only about 10% of Mana Pools National Park and that the lion population in Mana is about 110 lions. The area in which the Nyamatusi pack of wild dogs lived – the floodplain area of the Nyamatusi Wilderness area, is known for its lions. There is currently a mega pride of over 25 lions in the area today. We have frequently found the aftermath of lions killing wild dogs time and time again: a wild dog carcass full of bite marks and lion tracks around the carcass or seeing lions with little wild dog pups in their mouths.
Predator pressure is tremendous and unrelenting on wild dogs. The recent ZimParks Carnivore Research Project will collect data so that ZimParks ecologists can develop solutions for management that affect the carnivore population.
For the long-time-Mana-goers, you will remember the early 90s when wild dogs were a rare occurrence. The wild dogs made their appearance in the early 90s and did very well and built their numbers up to a pinnacle of 3 packs using the floodplain area and this lasted for about 15 years. It should also be noted that the lion numbers were low in the time that the wild dog numbers built up. Between Vundu and Nyampei we could go for a couple of weeks without seeing a lion. Prime habitat for wild dogs. This started changing when 2 lionesses were introduced from the Matusadona area after being caught in snares. One lioness, Catherine, changed the population status of the lions in central Mana for many years with her prolific production of cubs (Monks 2008). She lived to a ripe old age of 17 years.