One of the highlights of our visit to the Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana’s Okavango Delta in September was a wonderful sighting of a pack of African wild dogs. It’s not that common to come across these unusual animals, so when one does it’s a great privilege for game viewers. We’d been driving around for a while without seeing much activity when we saw a flurry of movement in a clearing of Mopani woodland. With great excitement we counted at least seventeen wild dogs in the pack, most of which were young pups chasing each other playfully around the area.
The adults, more sedate, lay down under the trees keeping an eye on the activity of the youngsters as they jumped over logs, ran through water or just chased each other around joyfully. It’s great to be able to enjoy this sort of spectacle and even better to be ready, with cameras on hand, to capture it in detail. It wasn’t long before we were joined by numerous other game vehicles, all jostling for the best situation for photography. Fortunately the dogs weren’t phased by the onlookers and they continued to play as if no-one was there, or as if we didn’t deserve their attention!
The African wild dogs that we saw were within a few kilometers of our campsite at Xakanaxa. With an abundance of small buck in the area, the dogs are never short of food to eat. A few days before this we saw an alpha male run across the road in front of us with a blood-stained face – obviously having just partaken of a nice juicy meal. We were disappointed that we didn’t have enough time to photograph him, but the pack of seventeen more than made up for that.
Botswana wildlife authorities spend a lot of time researching these unique animals and they are sometimes collared for tracking and monitoring purposes. They are particularly concerned about them crossing busy main roads and it is not uncommon to see warning road signs as you near the game reserves. We were glad that none of our dogs had collars on them – it kind of detracts from a wildlife photograph.
If you’d like more information about African wild dogs, click here for a blog we did on them about two years ago.