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The Wild Dogs

April 17, 2013

When I ask my guests, what animals are you the most excited about seeing, the wild dogs never make the top 5.  Probably because not many folks know about these elusive canines.  But when you ask the guides what animals sightings are rare, the wild dogs are always on the list.  So when we came across a pack of wild dogs, it’s understandable why our guides were more excited than the guests.  Here’s how the whole event unfolded.  We were staying at the BEAUTIFUL Buffalo tent camp lodge in the Loliando Game Control area of the Northern Serengeti. We were up early, because we want to get to a local Masai village before the day heats up. On the way we stoped and photograph a large group (tower) of Giraffe. They are all around us and the light is perfect. We get some great shots and then just watch. Their grace and beauty is really something to behold. One guest sums it up when he says, “I just love watching them. I think they are my new favorite animal.” We take off, but within a couple of minutes we have to stop to watch some Impala. And then….. “what’s that coming out of the bushes?” Our guide grabs his binoculars and then cuts loose a couple of sentences in Swahili. No one knows what he’s saying, but he has the same excitement in his voice as I do when I hear that Ben & Jerry’s has announced a new flavor of ice cream. THIS IS BIG. It’s the wild dogs. Wild dogs you say. YES wild dogs. To put this in perspective, this is one of the most rare animal sighting in the Serengeti. It’s been four years since our driver has seen them! And there they are. Seven of them. We take off across that bush. Our driver (Pokea) tells us to “HOLD ON.” He is a man on a mission. Our vehicle goes one way, and the other vehicles choose their own path. The hunt is on. We spot them again. Up the hill 200 yards away, but they’re out in front of us. Undaunted Pokea weaves his way through the Acacia bush. We are definitely going where no vehicle has gone before. We stop and start, searching for any signs of the dogs. Nothing, we’ve lost them. We wait and watch for any signs of movement in the bush. Then someone spots them. They are headed right for us. They come trotting by, within about 40 feet of our vehicle. Pokea has done it. He put us right in their path. This is amazing. For the next twenty minutes we try to keep up with the dogs, but their steady trot and the thick vegetation make it impossible. We were just about to give up when we see a herd of impala sprinting through the brush and not far behind them is the pack. They are going full bore hoping to take an animal down. But luck was with the impala, and the dogs had to give up. We followed them a short distance until they laid down for a rest. And for the next 30 minutes we were able to get shots from every angle as the pack rested in the shade of large tree. Our guide told us that earlier in the year a client hired them for 30 days. The only thing he wanted to see was the wild dogs. For 30 straight days they hunted for the dogs, and never found them. We are sooooo lucky.  I later learned from an animal specialist the I met in the Kilimanjaro airport that the dogs social structure is quite unique.  They hunt in packs, but unlike other pack hunters they only travel as fast as the slowest member can travel.  This leaves them vulnerable and decreases their likelihood of finding food.  When they do make a kill, the pups and the females eat first, then the adult males eat.  They also tend to share the kill evenly among all the members of the pack.  This is quite unusual in wild animals.

If you would like to join Ray on his next photo safari, contact our sales office at meg@uniquesafaris.biz or call 651-405-6683

 

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