The translocation of Rory – an update

A while ago I blogged on the darting and translocation of Rory, a young African wild dog, from South Africa’s Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve to his new home in KwaZulu-Natal. After some rather downbeat posts recently on the trade in wild dogs and on their endangered status, I thought I would give you an update on how Rory is doing as well as the video of his translocation that I shot earlier this year.

As an outsider joining an established alpha pair, Rory couldn’t have fitted in to his new pack and surroundings any better. The alpha female gave birth to eight pups this year and Rory has been the main babysitter and provider of food after hunts, regurgitating meat for the mother and for her litter. His care and responsibility towards them has ensured that all eight pups have made it through their first six months alive and well.

But it’s not all been hard work and responsibility…Charl Senekal, the reserve manager at Hlambanyathi Game Reserve where Rory was moved to, has noticed that the pack has taken to regularly chasing leopards up trees – a curious and dangerous game given the violent death of most of Rory’s family at the hands of predators.

The video shows the lengthy darting and translocation process that took place earlier this year to move Rory to KwaZulu-Natal. Four of the five darts fired made contact but, as is the case with such darting procedures, things don’t always go to plan. Two of the darts were ineffective and it was the fifth and final dart that had the desired effect. It is never ideal to have to intervene to such an extent in the lives of wild animals but with so precious few African wild dogs left and with their plight on our watch, it is sometimes a sensible and necessary decision. And in this case, with Rory playing his part in the survival of eight young dogs at Hlambanyathi, there can be little doubt that decision has been justified.

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