Teaching old bush-guides new tricks and new guides old bush-tricks is the job of Brain Bode, our guide training extraordinaire. After a few classroom sessions covering the very exciting subjects of “grasses, sedges & weeds” Brian decided to take the guides out for some fresh-air:
Our early morning game-drive rapidly became an exciting tracking session. Just 1km out of Siwandu we came across fresh Wild Dog droppings and tracks.
A quick 180° turn resulted in 8 guides spending about an hour following footprints and other signs left by these unpredictable predators. On numerous occasions we stopped the vehicle… got out… walked a few meters to re-confirm our suspicions. Off the road… into the bush… back onto the road the tracks went, clear signs that the pack was on the hunt! Coming around a corner, suddenly there they were: 7 beautifully “painted dogs” lying in the road, fully fed.
Soon the questions started flying between the guides in the Land Rover. Which pack is this? Who is the alpha pair…? The questions kept on coming. What an incredible feeling to be part of a team of guides who had tracked these endangered animals, found them and then were the only people observing them. Just when we thought all our questions were answered, another 14 dogs joined the pack, one still carrying a leg bone from their earlier successful hunt.
Wild dogs usually hunt daily with early mornings and late afternoons their peak hunting times. They are considered to be one of the most efficient hunters in all of Africa. We observed 21 of an estimated 5,000 wild dogs remaining in the wild today. The Selous Game Reserve has one of the largest and most important populations of dogs in the world. After a few more questions and photos, it was time to return to camp. What an experience!