Happy New Year to everyone, may this be a special and memorable 2015.
Well we have started off with a bang, on old year’s day, we had an incredible sighting of the Wild dogs, with us following a pack of 8 Wild dogs. At one stage we actually had Wild Dog, Lion and Spotted Hyaena all in the same picture.
The morning unfolded with us watching this Spotted Hyaena, lazing about on the airstrip, couldn’t care less about what was going on. We had decided that we would then head off, and go and check if the Wild dogs, which were around the previous evening, didn’t make their way to the Battlefields. As we were heading down the quarry, the radio buzzed, as only a radio could when something exciting was found, and sure enough, Godlisten radioed in that the Wild Dogs were on the airstrip, this sent all three our vehicles heading in the same direction, towards the painted wolves.
On arriving they had just started settling down, it looked like they were paying attention to a zebra foal at one stage, however lost interest, but were still restless. We did the same, just positioned ourselves and observed, watching to see what may happen next. Eventually the individuals started getting more and more active, until the alpha pair decided it was time to get moving. The pack moved across the airstrip and past the hyaena we were watching earlier, who promptly got up, moved initially away but then began to follow the pack. This opportunistic behaviour by hyaena isn’t anything unusual, as they will follow leopard and other predators, when they know there is a good chance they may get something at the end. Vultures are also good indicators of dogs, as they will do the same, flying after them, hoping for some leftovers.
We followed the Wild Dogs as they were heading on their mission, all of us losing sight of them as they headed into a thicket, in the general direction of the Battlefields. We then attempted to see if we could relocate, but with no luck so, decided to stop for some breakfast. After breakfast, the familiar buzz on the radio was heard again, yes, dogs relocated and at the battlefields, where we would find the sighting of a lioness in the distance, wild dogs on the battlefields, and the hyaena still in pursuit, hoping for some success and a meal. One cannot ask for more, and this isn’t a regular occurrence to see all three of these successful predators together so something really special. Dogs still moving around, we again waited, and the dogs then caught sight of a herd of Impala, causing the whole pack to go into stalking mode. Creeping closer and closer, until the Impala, realised who was heading their way, they weren’t sticking around, and the chase was on, with us bouncing behind. Unfortunately or maybe fortunately the Impala were one step ahead and were able to make their escape, still following the dogs who then almost caught a bushbuck ewe, which came hurtling towards the vehicle, and with some fancy footwork, dodged us and went rushing back into thickets, avoiding these hungry predators. The morning wasn’t over yet, as they then started making their way towards the Msine River, which had started flowing days before, after the heavens opened and poured. We watched them as they were contemplating if they could cross, or not, and whether it was worthwhile. Eventually we watched them move along the river’s edge into deeper thickets, which we couldn’t follow through; making this a great morning of adventure.
It hasn’t ended as we have been seeing good numbers of hyaena, some of which with successful kills that they have been feasting on, lions around the vicinity of camp, and then good general game, including good sized herds of wildebeest, zebra, impala and eland. It is quite amazing how the landscape can change, and how rapidly it happens, after a good downpour of rain, with everything now sprouting green.