The morning drive on this beautiful day started at a slow pace … general game here and there. When suddenly we were amazed at how perfectly the sun warmed the feathers of a Coqui francolin on the top of a termite mound. WE were so close and enjoyed watching the francolin reappearing time after time to give us its characteristic welcoming call, it was so clear above all the other bush sounds. In the distance its friend or neighbour was responding to its call. The drive was coming to an end with Pieter approaching Gowrie Waterhole. Someone said something over the radio and WE were off again – barely hanging on to the tank, Pieter keeping us in the shadows about what we were going to see. After a couple of minutes of flying through the bush WE finally came to a halt with Karula and … there stalking in the dry grass- one cub and then the other. The family WE have grown to love so dearly- playing in the late morning sun- it was one of the best leopard sightings WE have ever had. Pieter was so brilliantly excited, that listening to some one who was so truly in his element right there and then for the whole world to see was very special on its own.
Rex and Alex opened the afternoon drive with a special look at the sky through a female Marula tree’s fading green leaves and panning to a male giraffe lying down in the open on Quarintine. WE were in bush school with Rex educating us on how to distinguish the male from the female giraffe. The bell rang on this sighting and WE were heading west, Rex wanted to follow up on the morning’s sighting of Karula and the cubs and maybe also grab a look at the Wild dogs that were spotted during the morning drive by the other Game drives. The queue to see the African painted dogs was (as usual) python like long. So Rex cruised along with the hope to see Karula. In the west almost exactly where WE saw Karula on the morning’s drive Rex came around a turn and things changed dramatically, in long yellow thatch grass next to the road three big, fluffy dotted/ringed dog like tails appeared and WE were suddenly in the Wild Dog sighting. The three dogs we have seen on numerous occasions were vigorously hunting and WE followed them for the next 15 to 20 minutes. They were heading east on Gowrie Main, then to our excitement made a 90 degree turn and headed north alongside Shabam road. Rex followed them all the way to Phillimons cutline and through to Finn’s road where they chased and tried to kill a waterbuck. WE lost them for a couple of minutes, with a lot of radio communication going on trying to relocate the dogs, Rex showed us the exhausted waterbuck.
A short distance to the north west of them, Rex with his eagle spotting eyes saw whitetail tips wagging above the grass.The bush is so unpredictable, WE had lost the Dogs for less than 10 minutes and within that time they had killed a young kudu. It blew me away how fast they ate the kudu! To my knowledge the kudu they killed was just bigger than a full grown impala … and it was was stripped down to a bloody carcass in less than seven minutes. I always knew that they kill and eat fast, but this was lightning speed.
What made this sighting so special, despite the fact that it is so extreamly rare to see Wild Dogs in their natural habitat, is that people from all over the world could share this with us LIVE! There is no better way to truly appreciate the shear beauty and excellence of these animals than grabbing a seat on the tank with Rex or Pieter – and to trust the bush and it’s inhabitants to rock your world!