Robin Pope Safari – Wild Dogs Week


Oct 11th, 2005, 08:03 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
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Rocco - I can see that you're in somewhat of a tender place right now, and that last comment from me was rather harsh. Please accept my apologies...

Dennis - isn't there a movie where a guy fantasizes about being torn apart by lions or something? Can anyone help me out here? Anyway, just tell your friend that I'll be in my tent all alone, and I'M not scared. Yet.
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Oct 11th, 2005, 09:33 PM
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Apology accepted...and when you see that spitting cobra in your room, I had nothing to do with it, I swear!
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Oct 11th, 2005, 10:52 PM
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you two crack me up! you SHOULD be in business together! fodor's needs to make a "rocco" icon though, since has hers!
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Oct 11th, 2005, 11:00 PM
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- it doesn't help that I have been telling him all the horror stories. the japanese tourist eaten in Kruger, the hippo biting the canoe, the elephant knocking through that kids bathroom as he went down the stairs and the elephant rampaging in the womans room when they hid in the bathroom! with my luck i will get bit by a wild dog as when i was a kid i was bitten by i think 12 dogs, always had stitches and NEVER learned my lesson!! (but at least i would have seen a wild dog!
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Oct 12th, 2005, 03:56 AM
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Yes, Dennis, I would consider it a priviledge to be bitten by a wild dog!
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Oct 12th, 2005, 04:54 AM
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I just spent nine nights in South Luangwa NP - and saw no wild dogs at all! During my stay there was a sighting of a small pack at Mfuwe Bridge (a rather unusual place), and I heard about some wild dogs denning in the Kapamba area (southern SLNP). All the guides I spoke to regard wild dog sightings as a big luck.

That said, even if some of these dogs are collared (which still have to be confirmed), I still would call a sighting big luck, since there are only a few roads drivable during the green season, and access of more remote areas and off-road driving is impossible.

The issue of collaring wild dogs was the reason that the Wild Dog Research Project in Kafue has been stopped earlier in this season (bad luck for me). ZAWA only allows a Zambian vet to dart the animals, at a daily cost of $120 for the project - an unpayable amount for such a project! So it would be interesting to know how ZAWA will handle this in SLNP.

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Oct 12th, 2005, 05:37 AM
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Mitch! Welcome back! I was just thinking about you and trying to remember when you were to return! Did you have a great trip? Fill us in when you get a chance!
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Oct 12th, 2005, 06:43 AM
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This is the latest report I have from the outstanding guide Derek Solomon:

In August we were lucky enough to walk in on one pack near Kuyenda Bush Camp on two occasions, the first time a pack of five including a heavily pregnant female. The second time the pregnant female was missing and we presume that she was back at her den site. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to locate this as yet. A pack of 14 adults with 10 pups in tow have been seen on several occasions during October at the bridge over the Mushilashi River, a short distance from the entrance gate to the Park.

I think as Mitch has pointed out dogs are very hard to find in Zambia and should be considered a very rare treat. While they certainly can be found in Zambia, the Selous in Tanz., northern Kenya there can be no doubt that Botswana is the place to see wild dogs -- the populations are more dense and well known and they occur where you can drive off road allowing you to find them, to follow hunts and find kills and dens.

I'm very disappointed to hear about the road blocks to the collaring portions of the research. They are so wide ranging and one of the most important unknowns is to figure out where and when they leave the parks, especially for emigrating individuals leaving a pack and looking to start a new one. Without collars research will be severely hindered.
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Oct 12th, 2005, 09:21 AM
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I had to make the very tough decision of passing on RPS' Wild Dog Week. It would have been awesome to meet Kellie and Emma and learn from experts, but there is just no "cheap and quick" trip to Southern Africa. I'll just take the money that we would have spent on this trip as a down payment on another safari during a more visitor friendly time, and perhaps I'll be able to structure my itinerary such that I may still be able to meet the researchers at Wild Dog Conservations.

And while we're on horror stories...we had a sighting of a spitting cobra at our camp in Botswana! It was still in a hibernating state so it was very mellow and was easily escorted out of camp by our guide and staff. And if that's my one and only encounter with a poisonous snake during a safari, that's perfectly fine with me.
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Oct 20th, 2005, 08:19 AM
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While it is undoubtedly connected to the low season in Zambia, the green season has traditionally been known as the best season for seeing wild dog in the Luangwa Valley. This has been well-known among guides for years...and I heard about this long before RPS started marketing WDW.

Now the dogs can always change their habits...(check out the recent postings on the RPS website about the recent appearance of 24 of the hard to see canids at Nkwali!!)and March or April might be as good as February, but for my money, the chance of seeing wild dog is better earlier in the season, not later during the (Zambian) winter/dryseason.

I've seen them twice, and both times it was earlier in the season. (Once, an amazing experience, while staying at Nkwali.)

Traditionally-- conditions are somewhat different this year for a number of reasons-- guides do not expect to see Wild Dog during the Zambian dry season at all. Other wildlife viewing is excellent during that dry season (for example, the valley is simply crawling with leopards) but for dogs? If that is the primary goal, then green season is going to be a better bet. (But never assured of course.)

Re collars and requirements for Zambian vets: this is of course always a difficult situation. Often the researchers know more than vets...but then again not all researchers do. Predator Biologist, perhaps you heard about the situation a few years ago (for some reason, I think in Zim) where a researcher darted some dogs to collar them, and they all died. So there is always cause to be concerned about who get to dart and drug wildlife, especially for research. (Standards are different for darting an animal that has been snared or shot by people, when the darting is to treat the injured animal.)
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Oct 20th, 2005, 09:07 AM
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Tashak: that's great feedback on the seasons. I had not heard about that terrible incident and totally agree that there should be strict protocols for ever darting and collaring animals. At this point proper dosages for dogs should be very well documented and I would expect that the government should be able to approve very specifically detailed protocols by the few existing researchers. It is unfortunate that this kind of intervention into animals lives is necessary for the research -- but with this species there is no other way to do the critical research necessary for long term conservation solutions. In the U.S. when I work with endangered species I have to possess the necessary permits and follow strict protocols or I can be held criminally responsible.
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