Wild Dog Encounter in iMfolozi
A brilliant wild dog sighting in the morning turns into something totally unexpected in the afternoon. By wildlife photographers Ann & Steve Toon
It is quite late in our morning game drive, about the time you get to discussing breakfast options when we chance upon them. “Bran muffins, muesli bars or…”.
We’ve just turned the corner on Thoboti loop in iMfolozi and there they are milling about in the road just ahead of us. They’re skittering about restlessly from one side of the track to the other giving us plenty of time to register the wonderful caramel, chocolate and cream marbling of their coats, their rounded Mickey Mouse ears and those endless, superskinny legs – the envy of any elite runner with the Olympics in their sights.
Their bellies look pretty full and you can still see rusty, oxblood red around their muzzles. These guys have clearly already had breakfast and are looking for a good spot to settle in for the day. They seem oblivious to our presence and we count about 15 in the pack although it’s difficult to be sure in all the long, dry grass. Later we discover this pack is actually 20 strong. We stay with them until every last one has melted into the shade and straightaway decide this will be the place to start our afternoon drive. We might get the chance to watch them setting off on a hunt …
We roll up at the spot at about 3pm. Fantastic – the wild dogs are up and about already. We can see them moving close to the road as we approach. Suddenly we spot just what’s given them such an early wake-up call. An Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife bakkie is parked up on the verge towing what looks suspiciously like a haunch of fresh wildebeest. The bait is pulling in the dogs, but they’re nervous and agitated at the presence of the vehicle and a few hang back warily.
Further up the road we spot a second vehicle. A guy with a darting gun is trying to get a clean shot while making contact with the first bakkie to ensure he’s targetting the right dog. In just minutes two dogs are down – the pink of the tranquilliser darts clearly visible – and before long the guys are out of the vehicles to check everything‘s gone down okay. The rest of the pack skedaddle. As tourists we’ve stumbled across a fascinating, but routine piece of wild dog management as the team attempts to attach radio collars to two members of the pack. We check back with the guy who monitors the pack the next day. It’s not what we’d expected to witness on our afternoon drive but when you’re wildlife-watching in the bush nothing is ever really that predictable.
Inevitably, but without any real expectations, we drive the same loop again on our morning drive the next day. There’s no sign of the pack, but Steve reckons we should try the Bhejane Hide just in case they’re hanging out there. We tramp down to the hide only to find a group of blanket-clad bird-watchers. On the way back to the car park we run into the wild dog monitor who tells us to turn back because the wild dogs are coming to the water. Sure enough they put in a brief appearance scouting the area for prey and leaving beautifully clear spoor around the cars before scattering into the bush. What a finale to our drive to find them again. We settle back down into our customary morning routine: “Do you want bran muffins, muesli bars or…?”
Posted on: July 15, 2012, 2:28 PM
Posted on: August 10, 2012, 3:50 PM
Posted on: September 4, 2012, 3:20 PM
Posted on: September 4, 2012, 3:29 PM
Posted on: September 4, 2012, 3:51 PM
Posted on: September 4, 2012, 4:02 PM
Posted on: September 4, 2012, 4:52 PM
Posted on: September 4, 2012, 7:06 PM
Posted on: September 8, 2012, 11:16 AM