Okavango Machaba: Wild Dogs Scrutinise Us – during our Sundowner Break

Brendon Reports from Okavango Machaba Reserve:

We left the camp while the countryside was still shrouded in darkness, and very few sounds could be heard before nature woke up for another day.

There is a hyena den not far from the camp and we headed that way first. To our delight, one adult female was visible, supervising the boisterous activities of two eighteen month old youngsters and five small three month old cubs.

We watched as the light turned to grey, and the first shards of light coloured the area, and the cubs welcomed the day with some really active play. The rolled, chased each other, found twigs to show proudly to the mother, and stopped now and again to suckle. 

Then they noticed us, and approached – full of curiosity and daring. A little hesitant at first, they looked at each other for reassurance, and came closer and closer. The under-sides of our vehicles were equally fascinating as they went underneath for a good look.

Then, deciding that this peculiar creature with its incessant clicking sounds (our cameras) held no further interest, they returned to mom for another suckle.

The interactions between the older cubs and the younger ones kept us amused for ages. Now and then the older ones would romp and play just like the little ones. Then, remembering their older status, they would sit down sedately and watch with a somewhat superior air as the games continued without them. Again, unable to resist, they forgot their older status, and romped and played along along again.

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We decided to search for a pack of Wild Dogs that we believed were in the area. As we searched around, we found that there were elephants everywhere – along the Khwai river, in pans, in the bush, seemingly all around, and we stopped frequently to photograph them. When we weren’t photographing elephants there were giraffes, zebras, and a staggering number of magnificent birds that quickly filled our memory cards.

We returned to camp for lunch and set out again in the afternoon, determined to find the Wild Dogs. We followed the Khwai River, and simply had to stop again and again for elephants. They were splashing, drinking, crossing the river, and to our delight some were blowing bubbles in the water. Again, our cameras were extra busy, and smiles very broad. 

The light was taking on that beautiful late afternoon tinge when we found a herd of impala that simply glowed in that light … more pics!

We decided to check on the hyenas quickly in that lovely light and found the mother suckling the small cubs. 

And soon after leaving the hyenas we finally found the Wild Dogs – a pack of eight dogs were out on a hunt.

Wow, they were fast! We did our best to keep up as they trotted along. Every now and again they stopped together for a short rest, and then off again! 

The excitement mounted as we followed … then they spotted a herd of impala and they dashed after them. The nimble impala got away, and after a brief rest, the dogs were up and hunting again.

They spotted a herd of waterbuck and again the chase was on, with us following as well as we could … another failed chase!

We followed the dogs until sunset as they alternately rested and hunted.

We took a quick break from the frenetic activity for more elephant shots …

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– and sundowners, and were just lifting our drinks when something caught our eye on the edge of the clearing! The dogs had caught up with us, and they immediately came over to see what we were. They approached to within a few meters, sniffing and staring at us.

Then, apparently deciding that we did not look appetising, they continued on their way … leaving us with fabulous photos of the encounter.

After sunset, the dogs lay down together in a bushy area, and we returned to the camp. Now that we know where they are, we would like to find the dogs in the morning, hopefully before they start their morning hunt …