October 2021 Newsletter

We don’t know about you but we think it’s been an awfully long time since Painted Dogs featured in a Painteddog TV newsletter. Thankfully, the October edition is the newsletter to rectify that. Are you ready to sink your teeth into the highlights that October brought to the den? 

Private Virtual Safaris Synopsis

We hosted 12 Private Virtual Safaris in October. Of the 12, Khaya carried the team, presenting 9. It is remarkable to think that less than two months ago, Khaya was still learning his way around Pridelands. Yuka was the lady behind the wheel for the rest of the PVS’s this month.

Though it is nearly impossible to pinpoint one drive and one sighting as better than the rest, we feel the best drive of October was the Pack Members drive that was held on the 29th of October. One of the unique features of Pack Members drives is that where possible, the drives have two presenters instead of the usual one.  This time, it was hosted by the team of Yuka and Khaya. Besides the playful banter between our PVS presenters, highlights of the drive included an adorable puddle of warthog piglets, elephants relieving themselves (which inspired an R- rated discussion about the reproductive organs of elephants), and Khaya practicing geophagia (google it, and gasp).

News from the Den

October has been a busy month at the den. In addition to our regular antics, we busied ourselves with controlled bush burns, visitors, new staff members, and the likes.

In September’s newsletter, we let you know that we had Margot Raggett staying with us at the den for the latter parts of September and into the first week in October. Margot’s visit to Pridelands broke her 18 month Covid induced safari drought. Her primary reason for visiting Africa was to spend time with our favourite animal, the painted dog. Margot is the brain behind the Remembering Wildlife series, of which her next book heroes, you guessed it, African Wild Dogs.

The African Wild Dogs of the Lowveld must have known they owed their human benefactor a visit or two as, in her stay, Margot had numerous quality sightings of this endangered carnivore. In her own words, Margot found it a “joy and inspiration” to spend time with the animals she has spent months developing a book about. One of the sightings was a late-season painted dog den site near the Satara rest camp in the Kruger National Park.

The launch of Remembering African Wild Dogs will be broadcast from London on the 11th of November. Painteddog TV will be attending the event via a live stream, where Brent and the team will interview and facilitate conversations between Cole Du Plessis of EWT, Chad Cocking, Daryl Balfour, Lance van de Vyver, and Tristan Dicks, all of whom know a thing or two about Wild Dogs. If you would like to be a part of the event, you can purchase a ticket via the Remembering Wildlife website.

October also brought a fresh face to the den. Thulani has joined the team as a second camera person, you can almost hear Matt breathe a sigh of relief. He studied filmmaking and citizen journalism in Cape Town before he returned to his roots, the small village of Serville, situated about an hour outside Hoedspruit. Thulani has worked with PDTV before on projects including the Hukumuri saga. He begins with a bang, as not only do we get to introduce him in this newsletter, but we also get to wish him a HAPPY BIRTHDAY as he celebrated it with us this year.

Thulani’s favourite animal is the lion, a fitting choice as his surname translates to ‘lion’. Thulani says he loves lions because they never announce what they are about to do, but with patience and focus, they execute their plan. With such a profound outlook, we are excited for the contributions Thulani will make to the team.

Animal World LIVE & Bush Cams Chat

If you have been around a while, you will know that we host various studio-based talk shows; Animal World Live, and the newest edition Bush Cams Chat Live. Two episodes of AWL and four episodes of Bush Cams Chat Live were hosted this month.

Of the two AWL’s held in October, the most noteworthy was the Halloween Special that was held on the 31st. With Brent bumbling about in the wild after dark, Yuka all dressed up in the studio, and a creepier-than-usual Khaya sitting at the hyena den, the show could hardly be anything but fantastic. And fantastic it was, Yuka (and Juno) shared about the controlled burn that was conducted on Pridelands, the hyena cubs melted hearts as they played at dusk, and Brent delivered the ultimate Halloween surprise by transforming into a spooky creature of the night before our eyes.

Khaya’s Live Bush Cams is a relatively new series to the PDTV channel. Khaya hosts a show once a week where he devotes an hour of his time to watching and interpreting what is going on on the various Live Bush Cams, both in real-time and playbacks from the week. It is always entertaining to see what our live cams capture. This month one of the coolest clips was of the rare and wonderful Marsh Mongoose, a solitary, semi-aquatic nocturnal mongoose species.

Khaya’s October on Pridelands Conservancy

What is Pridelands Conservancy without spotted hyena and lion conflict! War between these two species is never ending as they compete for the same food source.

It was a cloudy relaxed afternoon at the hyena den, when Robin (the matriarch) arrived holding dead lion cub with only the front legs, neck and head left from the carcass in her mouth. The hyena cubs were waiting to see the ‘present’. They sniffed the carcass and bolted inside the den as they smelled the scent of the formidable enemy. It was so amazing seeing them reacting to a possible danger instinctively. And Robin kept on pushing forward to place the carcass at the entrance of the den. The cubs never came out until she decided to take the carcass away from the dens entrance. They slowly approached the carcass to investigate. Their body language spoke volumes, until they became relaxed. Robin then decided to take the carcass away from the den site.

The carcass was a few days old as it was stiff, maybe killed by malnutrition as the pride is a very large one, or maybe it killed by nomadic male lions or killed by prey species or even a hyena. None of the leftover of the carcass was consumed by the cubs, but it was possibly a learning curve for the cubs on how to react to the scent of their enemy – when the lion comes right next to the den area, make sure you’re deep in the den and safe.

We also observed an intraspecific competition amongst Pridelands hyena clan, as tables are beginning to turn to fight for dominance. A few times I’ve seen low ranking females, Half Tail and SmileN starting to act bossy around the den site. I’ve seen Half tail biting SmileN and Robin’s cubs because they came close while her cubs were suckling, and both mothers were there who quickly went for intervene, but Half Tail gave them few bites. It raised questions, on how a low-ranking female could stand her ground to the matriarch. Since then, there has been some tension at the den, and in the coming few weeks a takeover fight might erupt, leading to scars, blood, broken bones, and worst of all, death.

October is also a great time for game viewing as the dry land prepares itself for the first rains. Yes, we received our first rains as expected but not enough to fill up all the dams, dry riverbeds, and streams. However, the land is slowly rehabilitating to provide the impalas giving birth the next month enough vegetation to produce milk.

A lot of different species also started to emerge from their resting areas, from termite alates to leopard tortoises drinking in the small water puddles dug by the warthogs. The migratory birds started singing choruses to welcome the breeding season. I saw Diedericks Cuckoo to Levaillant’s Cuckoo searching for host nests, as they don’t build their own, waiting patiently to find a chance to sneak in to lay their eggs. They are Intra-African migrants summer visitor species, and I’m so over the moon that I was able invited a Diedericks Cuckoo to where I was sitting by mimicking its call, thanks to my gap in my teeth.

Finally, there was the return of breeding herds of elephants onto Pridelands. I wasn’t on a live virtual safari to share my joy of being close to baby elephants, but nonetheless, it is a magical experience and something I will always treasure. 

Thank you to our Pack Members and our sponsors – LedLenser SARogue Outdoor GearUntamed Brewing Company – as well as Pridelands Conservancy and Kwenga Lodge, where you will find our ‘dog den’. And of course, to all our supporters for running with the pack.

Be sure to keep an eye on the Painteddog.tv app, as well as Painteddog.tv on YouTube, Instagram on @painteddogtv, and Facebook. Until next month, goodbye.

A special thanks to

Victoria Craddock

A safari guide, writer and friend of the pack.
With a passion for wildlife, conservation and the written word, Victoria is the perfect person to have composing our monthly newsletter.

Follow her journey on Instagram @vicvic_craddock2.0 and TikTok @vicvic_craddock2.0

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