It’s always a bit of a risk when you head out in the afternoon to see if the animals you were looking for are still in the same place they were found from the morning drive.
There are a few things you need to take into consideration: are the animals well fed is a big one (we’re talking exclusively about predators here)?
Lucky for us the pack of 16 wild dogs we had set off in search for had not moved very far from the waterhole they had been seen at only a few hours prior. It was day five of my guests’ seven-day safari and viewings of the pack had been limited. It had been a very hot day and as a guide we try and predict when would be the best time to see the highest probability of animals moving; most of the time it is when temperatures start cooling down.
On this particular day we could not have timed it any better.
We found the pack and watched them for no more that five minutes when they started showing signs of getting active. Wild Dogs getting going is always an exciting thing to be around; their own energy is contagious, and this pack burst into a playful bout, high pitched squeals and yelps being given by all of them as they chased each other around. This was the first time I had seen the pups in this particular pack. The scene could not have been any more picturesque; the beautiful golden hue of afternoon light bathed the open grasslands as the pack started walking.
It’s always so exciting when you are on the move with the dogs; things can change in a heart beat, and this afternoon was no different. We had been following them for over twenty minutes and they had been unsuccessful thus far when they suddenly flushed a steenbok which had been incredibly well hidden underneath a small thicket. This may have been the luckiest steenbok I have ever seen as it managed to weave and side-step its way through no less than six of the wild dogs. The speed and agility shown by this small antelope was phenomenal.
The steenbok certainly won that round, but luck was on its side as it had been a couple of the pups that flushed it, and I’m sure their inexperience helped the antelope escape.
For a change it was a fairly sedate afternoon spent with the wild dogs; they never moved too fast (apart from the steenbok hunt) and as they were trotting through relatively open ground we could keep up with them without too much difficulty. Often it can be chaotic, but this time, as we left them moving sedately off into the gloaming, it was more a feeling of satisfaction that I felt, rather than the standard trey-and-recover-one’s-breath after the madness of a wild dog chase.