Penne Cole's thoughts on food, travel and more
On safari in Klaserie, a private nature reserve adjacent to the Kruger, we are lucky enough to see a pack of African wild dogs. Once widespread, there are just 6,600 African Wild Dogs left in the wild, 300 of which live in the Klaserie/Kruger area. So when our guides got the word that there had been some Wild Dog sightings, everyone was excited.
Our amazing ranger, Enoch, managed to follow their tracks (all while at high speed and sitting in the “bait seat” of our 4×4), and eventually we spotted a few of the Wild Dogs. They have much the same build as a household dog, but their fur is a mottled black-brown and they have large ears, almost like a jackal.
We continue following the dogs for a while, and eventually our little band meets up with the wider pack. The reunion is joyous, with much yipping and jumping for joy.
Meanwhile, our guides have been watching the sky. At first there is just one vulture circling, but then more and more appear until literally hundreds fill the sky. Some animal must have made a kill mere minutes away.
From his bait seat, Enoch excitedly guides the driver as our vehicle crashes through the bushes. We find a pair of wild dogs that have just brought down an impala. Some brave vultures are swooping in, trying to steal the carcass. The vultures swarming are sure to have been noticed by other predators, and the dogs know it too. Ordinarily, they would have brought the kill back to the pack to be shared but they know that with just the two of them, they will never be able to defend their prize. So they eat their fill and lope away.
The minute their backs are turned, the vultures swarm in. As many as 50 vultures cluster around the carcass, jostling for position as they try to grab a mouthful. The skies are filled with the giant birds, all swooping in on the action, and the trees around us groan with their weight. Within minutes, the carcass is picked clean and only white bone and bits of skin are left.
We are meters away when all this is happening, watching avidly from our open-topped truck. Seeing an African Wild Dog in the flesh is a rare enough event, let alone witnessing a predation, and we are awestruck. It is all over in a matter of minutes, and I can’t help but reflect how transient life is in this harshly beautiful land.
This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Transient.
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