Every year towards the end of the rains, the Alpha female in a pack of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) will seek out a suitable den in which to pup. After a gestation period of around 72 days, the pups are born. They’ll stay hidden, looked after by the entire clan, for a period of about 3-4 weeks before emerging into the ‘outside world’.
The Kwando Concession, in northern Botswana, has for the last few years been one of the best areas in Africa to observe these fascinating animals. No surprise then that on the 02nd August, a den with 3 young pups was discovered (albeit a bit later than normal in the annual cycle). The following day, a further 5 pups were visible.
Although pups are suckled for around 3 months, it’s usual for weaning to start at around 2 weeks after which the pups are encouraged to beg for food – an elaborate greeting ritual of whines, chuckles, nudging and biting which encourages all members of the pack to regurgitate food when they return from hunting (the dogs hunt by sight).