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REVEALING THE SECRET LIFE OF WILD DOGS

REVEALING THE SECRET LIFE OF WILD DOGS

There’s no  way around  it: to investigate how African wild dogs use shared marking sites (what we call an SMS), we need to use continuous recording of activities at those remote sites. To do this we have set up 35 camera trap sat confirmed and potential marking sites...

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THE TURNING OF THE PRIDE

THE TURNING OF THE PRIDE

Think of a pride of lions. Maybe its not the most obvious analogy, (brought on by the heat and an active imagination); but hear me out. The rocks are the breeding females, the sand their cubs. The males are the waves. Each new wave is a group of males descending on...

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FOR THE LOVE OF A DOG

FOR THE LOVE OF A DOG

New packs of wild dogs sometimes simply don’t last – potential packs dissolving within a few weeks. But others last for years. How to explain the different outcomes remains an interesting and possibly important question. African wild dog population stability and...

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THE INSIDE STORY: LAND ROVERS R US?

THE INSIDE STORY: LAND ROVERS R US?

Research team members at BPCT’s field research camp called “Dog Camp” come and go and they all have different experiences and stories to tell about their experiences in the field. There are tales of the challenges to keep up with wild dogs on the hunt, finding their...

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CATS VS DOGS

CATS VS DOGS

Let’s go back to 2013 when the Hat Pack, a newly formed African wild dog pack had just had pups. One of these pups was a female, Suzuka, one of 9 pups; 6 females and 3 males. The adults of the pack all hunt to feed their pups as their survival means the continuation...

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WHERE THE WILD DOGS ARE

WHERE THE WILD DOGS ARE

One of the challenges we have in monitoring a population of endangered African wild dogs is the huge home ranges they cover. An average pack ranges over more than 750km2 in our area, where roads are few and far between. This can result in our searching for a pack for...

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LIFE AS A RESEARCH ASSISTANT

LIFE AS A RESEARCH ASSISTANT

Being a wildlife researcher in a camp in the middle of the bush takes lot of courage, passion and dedication to collect all the necessary data needed. As a research assistant the main job is to collect data in the field which means spending a couple of hours with the...

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CHANGING OF THE GUARD: DISPERSAL, OLD, AND NEW WILD DOG PACKS

CHANGING OF THE GUARD: DISPERSAL, OLD, AND NEW WILD DOG PACKS

Old dogs die, sadly - and, with them, established packs extinguish. But in the intact African wild dog population that we monitor in Northern Botswana, young dogs take over with the passing of the old through the dynamic life history process of dispersal. New packs...

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SPOOR TRACKING: SCIENCE MEETS LOCAL SKILLS

SPOOR TRACKING: SCIENCE MEETS LOCAL SKILLS

Knowing predator population sizes is of utmost importance to a diverse array of stakeholders, including government wildlife management agencies, concession area managers, local livestock farmers, and the tourism industry. Yet large carnivore populations all over the...

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A NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK

A NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK

Happy New Year from Wild Dog Camp and the rest of the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust! My wife Carli and I recently returned to the field after a wonderful holiday leave in the States. Back in Botswana, we were immediately hit by the humidity and relative...

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CALLS OF THE WILD

CALLS OF THE WILD

The multitude of camp projects and fieldwork priorities have made for a busy last few months. But the gradually cooling weather is coinciding with a slow tapering off in visiting collaborators, which leaves more time for data analysis and writing (including our blog)!...

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TRACKING DOWN A WILD DOG DEN

TRACKING DOWN A WILD DOG DEN

The winter months of June, July, and August mark the coldest period of the year in Northern Botswana. It is this cool period of the year that African wild dogs choose for whelping, as pup rearing is energetically costly for a pack. Typically, the dominant female looks...

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AD HOC AND OPPORTUNISTIC: OBSERVATIONS MOST EXTRAORDINARY

AD HOC AND OPPORTUNISTIC: OBSERVATIONS MOST EXTRAORDINARY

Notes from the field, 05June2017: On my dutiful way to collect SD cards from camera traps a few kilometres into a mopane woodland, I was driving with my colleague, Megan, along a road that our team essentially created by driving to said camera traps. While she was...

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A (SAD) TALE OF TWO SISTERS

A (SAD) TALE OF TWO SISTERS

When you spend your time studying wild dogs, you cannot help but come to know them as individuals. The pack I spent most of my time with was the local Apoka Pack,  -  in the area since 2013. Darius, an immigrant male of unknown origins and Seronera, a disperser from...

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ELEPHANTS SABOTAGE!

ELEPHANTS SABOTAGE!

ELEPHANTS TRASHING OUR CAMERA TRAPS The big predators that BPCT works on are rare and elusive, and so we use camera traps to monitor their behaviour. Cameras traps set up at strategic locations automatically capture 30 second videos when an animal passes in front of...

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RECORD RAIN

RECORD RAIN

The rain started on the 14th November. It was the first rain since April and was a blessed relief. October had been brutally hot as usual and the bush was crying out for rain. With the vegetation all died back sight lines extended far further than usual over the...

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EARTHQUAKE!

EARTHQUAKE!

The whole structure of the tent began shaking strangely. Was anelephant pushing against one of the poles that support the deck onwhich the tent is situated, I wondered? Then birds began alarm callingout on the floodplain and as the shaking continued I recognised...

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PROTECTING ROOM TO ROAM

PROTECTING ROOM TO ROAM

We now know that most of the world’s protected areas are too small to sustain healthy populations of large animals, which require a great deal of space in order to survive and breed. When these protected areas don’t offer enough space, animals will roam outside of...

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SOLVING THE PUZZLE

SOLVING THE PUZZLE

My first experience studying African large carnivores was as a research assistant for the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust (BPCT) throughout 2012. It was during this period that I discovered both my desire to conduct focused research on spotted hyaenas, and the...

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SCARY-ASS COWS!

SCARY-ASS COWS!

Although trophy hunting of African lions and leopards has been banned in Botswana for many years, still the killing of lions continues. Lions kill livestock and, in the absence of alternative methods of preventing these losses, farmers retaliate. Such lethal control...

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A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A FIELD RESEARCH ASSISTANT

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A FIELD RESEARCH ASSISTANT

As a field research assistant, I am responsible for primary data collection and database maintenance. On a normal day I wake up just before first light to check for signals of collared animals. I wander through the camp in the half-light towards the mast, a tall metal...

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CREATURES THAT LURK IN THE NIGHT

CREATURES THAT LURK IN THE NIGHT

Northern Botswana has an abundance of wildlife and one of the most diverse carnivore guilds in Africa.  Hearing lions (Panthera leo) roar, leopards (Panthera pardus) saw, and spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) whoop as you drift to sleep is one of the many pleasures and...

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Preying solitaire: Kubu’s story

Preying solitaire: Kubu’s story

“Kubu” is a lone African wild dog. On first thought, such a strange state of affairs clearly exonerates her - and any research data collected on her – from contributing usefully to our understanding of wild dog social behaviour. But on reflection, second thoughts are...

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African Wild Dogs make their mark

African Wild Dogs make their mark

The Botswana Predator Conservation Trust (BPCT) has been studying African wild dogs in Northern Botswana since 1989. Wild dogs are wide-ranging and commonly come into contact with livestock, being persecuted as a result. However, wild dogs are also territorial and...

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A dozen dogs and a big cat; observations of hunting

A dozen dogs and a big cat; observations of hunting

Despite observing large carnivores on a daily basis, it’s still quite rare to see the entire process of a kill. Thick brush, fast-moving prey, and darkness are just a few of the common struggles we must overcome in order to witness a predator earning its name. Every...

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Scouting for girls

Scouting for girls

After getting the coordinates for Mankwe Pack, obtained by Tico by aerial tracking, I made my first attempt at sleeping out in the bush. Some dog packs are so far way that it's just not economic to drive back and forth to camp, so in order to get as much data as we...

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Dog Days

Dog Days

A white tail flashes out of the shade, momentarily painting an “S” shape on the dry grass canvas before falling abruptly back to earth. Back to the dust. Invisible again.The world is still. No hint of a breeze. The carpet of crispy brown leaves and long dry grass...

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Female lions gave birth to their cubs

Female lions gave birth to their cubs

I was lucky enough to join the BPCT as a research assistant at an ideal time, just as several of the female lions gave birth to their cubs. Once a female lion gives birth, she will leave the pride and remain on her own whilst the cubs are small, for the first three...

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