It’s always exciting when the wild dogs come through Londolozi. Unpredictable in their movements and able to travel large distances on a daily basis, these rare and enigmatic carnivores grace us with their presence for a day or two and then disappear into the depths of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park. A few weeks down the line they re-emerge and provide us with more spectacular viewing, before leaving as suddenly as they arrived.
Last week was no exception, as the Sabi Sand’s resident pack was found one morning by three Londolozi rangers a few kilometers to the west of camp, the blood on the dog’s faces clearly indicative of a recent kill. The dogs frolicked in the dawn light for a while, their high spirits evident, before regrouping as a pack and trotting north towards the Sand River.
Disappearing down the bank into a reed bed, there was a distinct possibility they would cross the river, a photographic opportunity not to be missed, and in anticipation of this we zoomed eastward to an easier access point to the riverbed. Once in the river itself (flowing gently now in the dry season), we drove straight upstream, to a sandbank directly opposite where we could now hear the dogs yipping about in the thicket.
We caught brief glimpses of them through gaps in the reeds before being finally rewarded with the majority of the pack emerging onto the sandbank opposite us, a few of them tentatively dabbing their paws into the water.
Although they did not actually cross the river, the light, the setting and the pack’s antics meant that we were able to capture some stunning photographs before the dogs disappeared back into the vegetation, briefly squabbling with two hyenas over the remains of their kill, and then heading westwards along the riverbank. We followed them for a short while longer, feeling immensely privileged to be able to spend an extended period of time with these, Africa’s second rarest large carnivores.
Written by: James Tyrrell
Photographed by: John Holley