ODP Overland Safari: Pel’s Fishing Owl! And a Wild Dog Kill!

Ben from Khwai River Lodge:

As we left the Lodge this morning we almost immediately found fresh male leopard tracks which we followed closely. He must be close by! Then, when we heard alarm calls from Red-billed Francolins we knew he was in the area. We circled – and circled – and circled again. But no leopard.

Enthusiastic birders were delighted when we found a Plain-backed Pipit, and a number of Meyer’s Parrots a meter from the ground next to the road.

Deciding that it was time to stop for tea, we headed towards the selected spot, and stopped for a Dwarf Bittern foraging for insects in the scrub next to the road. We were photographing the bird when we received an excited call from our second vehicle. They head reached the stopping place, where a Pel’s Fishing Owl sat out in the open.

When we arrived the owl was till there. It gave us some super photographic opportunities, especially when it decided to fly to a dead tree trunk. Again, our cameras filled quickly – extra special as this was a first ever sighting for many.
When the owl spread its wings and flew away we all managed some more good action shots.

By now it was late and time to return to the Lodge for lunch and a rest before setting out again this afternoon.

Rumours of Wild Dogs sent us in search of them. Again we stopped for different types of game on the way, and when we picked up the dog tracks we saw that they were very fresh. And yes, this time luck was on our side. We found a pack of 8 dogs in the late afternoon light. They were on the move, and we realised that although they were quite scattered, they were hunting.

Excitement and adrenalin levels increased as we followed the dogs. It was such a thrill as we bumped along after them, trying to keep up, listening as they called ever more urgently to one another, running along, searching, checking – hunting!

Then they spotted a herd of impala and the chase intensified. We followed feverishly, wide-eyed as the dogs gained on the impala.

By the time we caught up with them, their meal was almost over. We watched as the dogs jumped, ripped and pulled at bits of food, greeted and licked each other, yipping all the while, in an amazing blend of sound, frenzy, dust and feeding!

Wild Dog Pup-387b

What an experience! We remained until dark, and it was time to return to the Lodge.

t one stage, when we turned around, there was a leopard! We hurriedly took some photos of the beautiful cat before returning our attention again to the Wild Dogs.

Tree Leopard_302b

On the way back to the Lodge we found a large, solitary male lion walking sedately down the road. He was totally indifferent to our presence as we followed him until he veered off into the bush and disappeared into the night.

Our final sighting was a Giant Eagle Owl perched right next to the road!

With a day as full as today we are all in high spirits and thinking about returning to the Wild Dogs in the morning in the hopes of another hunt …