Note: If image quality is poor it is due to me having to reduce image size because of a poor internet connection not liking the high quality photos.
There is only one thing in my mind this week. Actually nine things. The puppies. Our resident wild dog pack has increased in size from five to a wonderful fourteen. Last week I wrote that I hoped they hadn’t left for good, thankfully my wishes were granted and within twenty four hours they were back on the property posing amazingly for the camera. They have been on the reserve all week providing many awww’s and ooooo’s.
When I look back on my time in Africa, I notice my change in perception of how the wild dogs have become such a big part of my life. My first ever sighting of them was when I started training, on our first ever drive, we saw a pack of seven wild dogs running full speed over an open clearing. My first ever carnivore sighting in Kruger National Park was also a wild dog, so although they haven’t appeared as frequently as lions and the other creatures that inhabit these areas, they have always been there. I have been fortunate enough to watch our resident pack grow. I was the first one to find them, on our tar road all those months ago and then I was the one to confirm the death of an individual after being hit by a car on the main road. Yet, through the tragedy and uncertainty of them staying, I have seen the pack evolve from four individuals to a healthy fourteen and it has given me such pleasure to do so.
This week the pups have really stolen the headlines, I have spent a number of mornings sitting and observing these pups for about an hour each time. The highlight was watching them on an impala kill that the adults had caught. Seeing the pups interact with each other and with the adults made a spectacular sighting for us all. We watched as the adults regurgitated food for the youngsters who would squeal and yelp in a submissive manner to entice the adult to give up some meat, but it was also great to see the pups on the carcass itself, trying to pull it this way and that, tearing off chunks of flesh as they did so. The sense of community surrounding dogs is plain to see, whilst lions have the attitude that it is every individual for themself, the dogs care for one another and make sure everyone has their fair share of food.
Some of the guests really appreciated how special these pups were but others did not, dogs aren’t part of the big five so they didn’t care, nevertheless I sat there and enjoyed every single second of being surrounded by one of Africa’s most endangered carnivores.
With a total of only seven weeks of guiding left (only nine in the country) I am making the most of every opportunity and enjoying every animal sighting that I can possibly see, if my guests can’t appreciate how special these animals are, at least I can!