Now “The Wild Dogs of Londolozi” join the long-famous “Leopards of Londolozi.” By the third day of our Londolozi visit we’d seen two packs of the highly endangered African wild dog – for an amazing total of 27 dogs!
The first spot, a pack of nine, was very vocal, whining and crying and constantly on the move. Melvin our ranger sped and swerved the Land Rover in a thrilling, high-speed off-road ride, tracker Milton spotting dogs in the bush as they whizzed by ahead. We chased them through tall grass, over small trees, across roads, through a pan and down into a riverbed where they munched on remains of a earlier kill, yipping and crying the whole time. What an extraordinary experience!
Another afternoon as we headed north to search for a mother leopard and her new cub, we rounded a curve in the track to find 7 or 8 wild dogs milling around, unbothered by our arrival. One dog in particular stood out – his left eye was a bright milky blue color, perhaps the result of an old injury, Melvin suggested. “Blue eye” and others led us to the remains of a kill nearby where more dogs were finishing up their meal, bone-crunching sounds coming from the tall grass. We soon learned why the pack seemed restless when we spotted a hyena in the bushes slowly moving toward the scene.
Not brave enough to take on a pack of 18, he emerged to inspect what was left as the dogs meandered down the road and then headed into the bush. Melvin looped the vehicle around and stationed us at the other side of the trees when we heard the scream of a dying impala. Again, a wild ride into the vegetation and we arrived at the bloody kill site within minutes. The whole pack was tearing into the beast, tugging and jostling but surprisingly well-mannered with each other. A few emerged bloody-faced, only to return to the carcass for seconds. What a sight!
We’d not expected to see wild dogs during our stay, yet alone spend hours on the chase with two packs and even sharing a meal with one! It’s been an exciting visit so far – and we’ve not yet even blogged about the lions and leopards, the rhino that chased us, and so on. More later…
Written by: Mary Beth Wheeler
Photographed by: Mary Beth and Bob Wheeler (Londolozi Guests and Blog Followers)