Being part of the pack is exactly how we felt during our quick two-hour drive at Xigera Camp this morning.
Leaving camp we immediately found lion tracks on the entrance road, but bypassed these in search of something a little more ‘Xigera’. There were giant flocks of pelicans overhead, and we knew they would be in search of fish traps which always provide entertainment, and a true test of one’s camera skills. Moments into the drive however, it wasn’t fish traps we found, but a pack of African wild dogs on the move.
Now who can bypass such a sighting when running wild with the pack is about as much action as any drive could deliver?
When we first found them the dogs were within close range of each other, but very soon they spread out into a hunting formation and headed for the long grass on the floodplains; no doubt in search of reedbuck and red lechwe. Two reedbuck burst from the scene, but were too fast for even the fleet-footed dogs to respond to. Without skipping a beat they moved on to a herd of lechwe in the distance. This congregation split in all directions at the approach of the pack, and nearly engulfed two wattled-cranes which had no time at all to take flight.
Failing this second attempt the dogs veered back to dryer land, and turned their attention to some impala herds. This time they were successful, but unfortunately like most kills at the moment, their prize was a mere 5 kg impala baby, which doesn’t go far. On with the hunt, and soon they came across a hippo carcass which provided them with a few minutes of entertainment until their focus turned back to their hungry stomachs.
A few hundred meters later and ‘BANG’ they exploded into action again when they flushed a skinny little scrub hare which proved to be quite a challenge for the much larger and powerful dogs. It was open terrain so the hare could bob and weave, which turned into quite a game for the pack, and it was a tussle to see who would be victorious with this bite-sized prize.
I think this hunt-turned-game sucked the last energy out of the sporty canids and they took up residence at the foot of a giant lala palm. Now that’s a ‘Xigera’ sight to behold.
Written and Photographed by Deon de Villiers