All good things must come to an end. And so it did. But before I get to that, an update on the last day or so in the Okavango Delta at Sandibe. Instead of the boat ride on Sunday evening, we got word that wild dogs had moved back into the area and we had a good chance of finding them if we went back out on a game drive that afternoon. Unanimously we decided that was the way to go as wild dogs are so rare to see. I had secretly hoped to see them on this trip but had written it off because of their scarcity. What I made known that I wanted to see was cheetah …. That didn’t happen – this time.
Back to the dogs: we piled in the Land Cruiser and set off to find the pack. It was nearly an hour long and very bumpy ride past the airstrip but another vehicle was already there and was sending word that the dogs were stil there. It was a pack of 17 dogs – pretty substantial! We arrived and there they were – laying around a large pond, just waking up from the midday slumber. They are pretty scrawny with skinny little legs, very splotchy brown, black and white coloring and huge ears. I think they’re beautiful. But I may be biased since I think our dog Lucy loosley bears some resemblance. They had reasonably full bellies and we saw two impala carcasses nearby – presumably from the night befores kill. They slowly awoke, started playing with one another nipping each others ears and chasing away the vultures that follow them around to pick up the leftovers. They looked just like any group of domesticated dogs. Slowly they started wandering away, looking for the next place to go for food in the area. We followed as they started to break up and we thought maybe they were hunting – they’re known to be very skillful hunters using their numbers to scatter, surround, corral and surprise their prey. Our guide said usually though if they’re hunting they move quicker – this just appeared to be a casual scouting trip. Just then we saw a few of them bolt and the whole pack took off in a full sprint in smaller groups but all headed in the same general direction. We took off after them and barrelled through the bush hot on their heels. Right, then left, then right again and then we arrived at the scene. They had just taken down an impala and we weren’t more than 5 to 10 seconds behind. It was a bit gruesome so I’ll spare some of the details but wow – I never expected to see wild dogs – let alone watch them hunt and take down a meal. These no longer looked like domesticated dogs. They were fearsome killers and very efficient at their job. After they ate, they milled around yipping and bonding and watching us. It was a bit unnerving. I’ve had many encounters so far with predators looking at us – lions, hyenas and leopards that appear to be looking you in the eye even though the guide swears they only see the vehicle as one large thing and not individual people inside the vehicle. This though felt different somehow since I just watched them do what they do best – kill their dinner. They settled down and we left them and headed to a safe spot to have our sundowners. We stopped at another pond a good distance away and had our last sundowners of the vacation. Sad. We had a nice send off though as the sunset was one of the prettiest we’d seen, especially with the reflection off the water.
Here are the dogs: