It has always been a dream of mine to spend time at a Wild Dogs’ den with tiny pups. Wild Dogs have made a remarkable recovery in Kenya in the last ten years, and sightings are now much more frequent and widespread than they were when I first moved in twelve years ago. One of the main areas where Wild Dogs have thrived is the Laikipia region in northern Kenya. Still, Wild Dogs are never easy to see due to their nomadic nature and ability to cover extremely long distances while in search for food. A Wild Dogs’ pack is sedentary only for a few months when a new litter of pups is born. The Alpha female gives birth in the den and the other members of the pack bring back food for her in the first month of the pups’ life. As the pups grow up they begin to climb out of the den and start asking for meat at around six weeks. The adults have to hunt daily to provide for themselves and the hungry pups.
It was just around mid-August when news came that a pack of Wild Dogs had a den in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, in Laikipia. After my trip to Tsavo East I took advantage of a break in my safari schedule, I packed my Land Cruiser and drove north. I spent a fantastic week in the Conservancy with the Wild Dogs every day. learning about their behavior, trying to capture some meaningful images of an extraordinary event.
The pups were extremely voracious and kept on begging for food whenever the adults returned from the hunt. Wild Dogs regurgitate food for their babies and companions who have remained at the den.
The pups were quite playful and full of energy. And so were the adults. They hunted sometimes twice a day and played extensively among themselves, especially at sunrise and in the afternoon.
The Alpha female lays at the entrance of the den to nurse her pups. These pups were about six weeks old and mixed meat with their mother’s milk.