Recently the Manyoni Team attempted a one-of-a-kind rescue of the alpha male in our African wild dog pack. Here is the incredible, odd-defying story:
Our monitoring team reported that the alpha male of our wild dog pack had an injured front leg and was walking with a severe limp. We quickly responded by attempting to capture the male and treat the injury. Not for lack of effort, each of our initial capture attempts failed. As a last resort the helicopter team was called in to assist. Yet again, the clever wild dog quickly figured out how to avoid our capture efforts and found refuge from the helicopter underground in an old warthog hole.
The team was exasperated at this point as to what to do next. The wild dog’s condition had deteriorated significantly and the risk of him dying was very real by this point in time. This feisty male had gone down a hole in a remote area of the park with very steep terrain. The Manyoni Team decided to attempt to capture the male at the warthog hole.
The team hiked down the mountain to where the dog was hiding and discovered a myriad of exits and deep tunnels commonly occupied by porcupines, snakes, and bats. The bats were flying around inside the tunnels frightening anyone who peered inside. Dane Antrobus, the bravest man on the team, agreed to crawl inside and look for the injured wild dog. Armed with head torch, young Dane crawled in on his belly headfirst- a formidable task considering all that could be encountered. He held his nerve and kept searching whilst the bats fluttered around his head. He found the alpha male lying in deep in one of the tunnels looking very weak and unresponsive.
The only option we had was to send Dr. Mike, the veterinarian, inside to dart the dog. Incredibly, he managed to dart the wild dog underground. After a short waiting period the drugs took effect and dog was pulled out of the hole and carried in the arms of his rescuers to where the helicopter could airlift him to a more accessible area. The snare had severed all of the muscle around the leg and Dr. Mike advised the leg had to be amputated. The alpha male was placed on an IV and rushed to surgery. After 3 long hours under anesthesia, he was taken to a boma (temporary holding enclosure) for recovery.
The surgery was successful and he made a full recovery. Wild dogs are very resilient, and this male was no different, as he very quickly adapted to alternate way of moving to compensate for the missing limb. This brave wild dog male and team of passionate conservationists never gave up and achieved what seemed impossible.