Incredible Number Of African Wild Dog Pups Burst Out Of Den

The African wild dog is one of the rarest predators on the African continent. To have the opportunity to observe two wild dog parents, who successfully added nineteen puppies to the population, go about caring for their adorable puppies, is priceless. Getting to see African wild dogs in their natural environment is always a special occasion. We were fortunate enough not only to encounter wild dogs in the Kruger National Park, but to get the rare opportunity to see their behaviour when they have puppies. Every time there is news of wild dogs breeding in the wild, it is good news, as the population numbers of these wild dogs are dwindling. After we learned about the location of a wild dog den in a remote part of the Kruger National Park, we didn’t waste any time and started our journey with high anticipation. After a few hours drive we managed to locate the wild dog den. African wild dogs make use of burrows in old termite mounds, providing a safe place to hide and nurse their puppies for about twelve weeks. Wild dog packs can range from five to twenty plus individuals and in a pack, there is always an alpha male and an alpha female. These alpha pairs are the only ones that are allowed to breed in the pack. For this reason, many wild dogs will never breed in their lifetime and only assist with the protection and feeding of the puppies. We arrived at a large termite mound where we spotted one male adult wild dog near the entrance of the den. The male wild dog looked intently focused on the entrance of the den. We suspected he was calling the puppies out of the den. Our timing was perfect and suddenly to our amazement, the most adorable puppies started bubbling out of the mound. First there was one, then two, then three and then they just started pouring out. It was not long before the alpha female joined her male, luring the puppies out of the den, down the backside of the mound. We decided to drive around and park on the opposite side of the mound. Outside the den we counted a total of nineteen puppies and their high-pitched squeaking and chirping sounds became louder as they gathered around the mother with excitement. We realized it was feeding time. Wild dog pups are weaned at five weeks and from then they take meat from their parents, which is regurgitated by the adult dogs after returning from a morning hunt. The puppies were so cute, looking like little black and white furballs, swarming together with great excitement while making the most adorable twittering sounds. The feeding was quick as every small piece of meat delivered by the parents was devoured in a flash. The pups spent about ten minutes outside the den before they disappeared back inside the den. The adults went to rest under a nearby tree and the whole scene went dead quiet. We left knowing that we were so lucky with our timing and that we saw a sight only a small amount of people ever had the opportunity to see.