Every so often, we witness something spectacular here on Kapama; something that we do not expect to experience. It is something that is not seen on a regular basis and, if seen, is an amazing and once-in-a-lifetime sighting. Something that deserves so much credit is a pack of wild dogs.
Very endangered and vigilant animals, wild dogs walk through reserves regardless of any kinds of obstacles and we have been lucky enough to have a pack of wild dogs on the Kapama property for the last couple of days.
Wild dogs are extremely endangered and regardless of the quality of the sighting, it is still a very special experience that we as rangers also cherish. Wild dogs are known to roam around extremely large areas do to their need to hunting almost every day. They live and hunt in packs therefore there are many mouths to feed. Even though the dogs can give birth to up to twelve pups, unfortunately, their survival rate is not high.
Many of our guests do not know anything about these amazing creatures. Needless to say that they are one of Africa’s most endangered species due to a loss of habitat. For those of you that are not aware of these canines, they are referred to as Africa’s painted dogs due to their unique patterned coats – different colours such as black, white, brown and ginger are visible.
The African wild dogs are extremely successful hunters. Working in packs, surrounding their prey, tiring their prey, and starting to eat while the animal is alive contribute to their success.
While out on our game drive, one of my guests actually asked about wild dogs. I explained that there is a pack that comes through the reserve every now and then but chances are not great of seeing them as they move for very far distances at a time.
That was the end of our conversation about wild dogs until this morning. One of the other rangers had spotted them in the area in which we were driving. So we decided to head that way. Before we got there they had lost visual. I thought to myself we’ll probably not see them again. When we got to a nearby dam, there they were drinking water and keeping their eyes on the hippo inside the water.
To our surprise, they starting antagonizing the hippo until it came out the water – probably to chase them away. However, the wild dogs decided to surround this hippo. The hippo was clearly confused – “what are these small creatures doing”. And then it realized that being in the middle of a pack of wild dogs was not a good place to be. He then quickly bolted back into the water for protection. The wild dogs then realized that he would not come out any time soon and moved off.
To be able to experience something like this is not even thought of in the life of a ranger. Seeing wild dogs on its own is a great experience but to see them taking on a fully grown hippo is definitely unheard of.
My guests and I could not comprehend what we just saw and it took sometime for us to soak it all up. What an amazing day it was.
Welcome to the wild dogs. May they decide to stick around in this area for a while.
KC – Kapama River Lodge