Vegetarians… you might want to look away now. This post is not for the faint of heart either. This is a story of a little impala that could… err… then couldn’t.
Wild Dogs: they’re just like regular dogs, right?
Madikwe Game Reserve reintroduced the endangered African wild dogs, also known as the hunting dog or painted dog, to its lands over two decades ago. Today, they are doing well and safari-goers stand a good chance of seeing the resident wild dogs. Like we did.
We first caught up with these fury but ferocious animals while they were taking a snooze in the tall grass. As highly sociable animals, they stay in packs and do everything together led by the alpha male or female. Although they are wild, they do what most other dogs do…
Use their (big) ears to listen.
Sit in a very sphinx-like pose.
They yawn… revealing their impressive canine teeth.
And even do the downward dog… does this make it a wild downward dog? (I’ll ask a yoga teacher.)
Already pretty satisfied with a beautiful sighting of these painted dogs enjoying the moments of relaxed tranquility, it was to our delight 2 days later when this happened.
African Wild Dogs on the Hunt
We were off on a game drive looking for lions one morning. We were a good ways away from the lodge when our guide hear his name on the reserve radio channel from another guide from our lodge. In a calm and collect voice, he said: “Dylan, come in. Can you please go to the private channel?” So he did.
The next instruction came through like a shrieking, giddy school girl: “Get over here!! Now! Wild dogs near the lodge!”
Our guide turns to us and says to hang on. We’re going on a “safari Ferrari” to make it back quick to see the wild dogs. It was the start of one of the most thrilling experiences we had. We sped through land, over trampled bushes, broken branches, shrubs and uneven soil. Bouncing up and down in our seats, we hung on as the warm African air threatened to tear the hats off our heads.
When we arrived, the wild hunting dogs were in already in motion. Spread out across the plains, their ears were perked up. They sniffed the ground around them. They were on the hunt.
We quietly followed them along until there was some commotion. The dogs picked up the pace and we were on their tails (pun intended). Our guide (who must have as keen an eyesight as the animals themselves) shouted, “Look at that impala go!”
We raced behind trying to catch all the action. The impala was gaining ground until one of the dogs coming in from the wings cut it off. The impala leaps into the air (I’m sure wishing at that point it had wings). The dog jumps to catch it, does a back flip. He’s unsuccessful.
The impala narrowly escapes.
Off into the bushes it goes. More dogs come out in hot pursuit. They are so fast we can’t keep up.
That is until we see them all stopped around in a huddle over a little impala carcass. Teeth thrashing. Bones cracking. Yelps and growls adding to the symphony of sounds.
Within two minutes flat, the little impala that could was no more. Small fights ensued over the leftover scraps and bones. Some made off like bandits with a healthy portion all to themselves. The white fur on their faces, now pink.
And so, we sat in awe of the circle of life. In awe at the efficiency and ferociousness of the highly organized pack of African wild dogs.
The don’t call them hunting dogs for nothing.
And if this doesn’t convince you to go on safari, perhaps my first post about the big 5 will. We recognize we were incredible fortunate to see this drama unfold. But it was mostly thanks to the excellent guides of Makanyane Safari Lodge. I’ll go in depth soon about what you can expect when staying there. PS It’s nothing short of bliss.
My dear readers, if you like this post, leave a comment below. And better yet, share it with the dog-lovers in your life. If you’re on Pinterest, pin it for later.
And hey, thanks again for reading! I’m linking up with #WanderfulWednesday with Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World. Go check out other great travel posts to fill you with inspiration.