It started out as a normal day at Londolozi. Subsequent to a debrief from our astute Operations Manager, Duncan MacLarty regarding the arrival of my new set of guests, I waited in anticipation on Varty deck to greet them before our afternoon drive. What was to follow will remain one of my greatest memories…
I was completely oblivious to the secretive meetings held by our incredible staff over the preceding days, and somewhat confused by the congregation of camp managers and rangers gradually jostling for position on the deck to witness my reaction when I heard a familiar voice calling my name. I turned to look over my shoulder to see my family walking through the magnificent Varty entrance. I was completely unaware they were coming to visit as they had kept it a surprise literally until the last second. I was speechless and am still unable to describe in words the emotions I felt that day. And then to be able to share with my family one of my most memorable sightings and a rare event in the African bushveld, turned a wonderful surprise visit into something truly special.
Although slightly overwhelmed and saddened by the imminent departure of my family after four incredible days together, our last evening drive led to an event that only a handful of very fortunate will get to observe. Having heard on the radio that the African Wild Dogs had been located by our experienced ranger Tom Imrie, I felt that there was never a better opportunity to show my family an animal that they had never seen, and might never see again. What happened next no one could have predicted.
Our initial sighting of the dogs was nothing short of spectacular as they forced the beautiful Malilwane young female to make a hasty retreat up a tree in order to escape their looming threat below. Doggedly (pun intended!) circling around the base of the tree, the Wild Dogs were distracted by a passing female duiker that was blissfully unaware of the danger just around the corner and immediately the chase was on…
A frantic pursuit ensued. In a desperate attempt to flee the packs, and with limited escape routes available, the helpless duiker plunged herself straight into the a nearby waterhole. Swimming aimlessly around, she soon found herself surrounded by the entire pack, who were already anticipating their next meal.
Some of the dogs began swimming intently towards the horrified duiker only to scurry back towards the safety of land. However, when the duiker moved closer to the bank, most likely to try and rest on shallower ground, one of the dogs braved the chilly waterhole and took hold of its victim not too far out from the water’s edge, grabbing it by the neck and pulling it through the water to the shore where it was subjected to the ferocious appetite of the rest of the pack.
This visit by my family, made special by the secretive scheming of the Londolozi team, was a massive surprise, and I sincerely thank everyone involved for helping to add to my family memory bank.
Disclaimer: Graphic video may be sensitive to some viewers
Written and Photographed by Callum Gowar, Londolozi Ranger
Filmed by Daryl-Ann Gowar