Wim Reports from Okavango – Machaba: Joining the Hunt …
We spent the morning chasing, following tracks, stopping to photograph the amazing general game, then following more tracks in circles.
Let’s see … it started when we set off to Mogotlo to find the 6 Wild Dogs we left there last evening, hoping that they would hunt again this morning. They were close to the lions we had seen, so we hoped to see the big cats as well.
We were almost there when we heard that the pack of 16 Wild Dogs were close to the airstrip – and on the move. Because we were already so far away, we debated about turning back, but decided to continue to find the lions and 6 dog pack.
First we found fresh leopard tracks and followed these until they disappeared into thick bush. Then dog tracks, which showed that the dogs were running – probably hunting. We followed the tracks … but no dogs. Then we found fresh lion tracks which looked more and more promising until they went off into the Chobe Game Reserve and we were unable to follow.
So, plenty of general game, plenty of anticipation, but no predators!
So we headed off to the 16 dog pack. Same story! By the time we arrived at the airstrip area, the dogs had gone, and of course just then we received a call to inform us that the lionesses at Mogotlo had returned with males and were very busily courting and mating. Oh well! To add insult to injury we received another call to say that the 6 dog pack was out hunting … and another large single male lion had arrived in the area.
This time we thought it would be smart to anticipate the movements of the 16 dog pack and presumed that they were most probably headed towards an area named Sable Alley.
Soon after we arrived at Sable Alley our patience was finally rewarded. There came the dogs, and we captured the shots we had worked for so hard all morning before the whole pack went to enjoy a siesta under a large shady tree.
This afternoon we returned to the dogs and realized that they were about to cross the 15 meter wide channel. In anticipation we drove into the water to be level with them for the best photographs. The setting was ideal. Beautiful glowing water lilies in crystal clear blue water, lush green vegetation all around, and a dramatic sky above. The dogs crossing the channel would be perfect …
The dogs started to enter the water to begin their crossing, and were no more that a meter or two from the bank when an almighty storm started very abruptly, drenching everything within seconds. With a single bound the dogs leapt back onto the ground and scampered to the relative protection of the large tree where they gathered together again in a tight bundle to wait for the storm to abate.
We waited with the pack, hoping that the rain would pass, and shortly before dark the dogs were up and ready to hunt.
Almost immediately they found a herd of Impala and gave chase with us doing our best to keep up with them.
Adrenalin was flowing! It was an incredible experience to feel as though we were a part of of this hunt. As the dogs yipped and chattered excitedly to one another, the tension and excitement mounted! Fabulous! And worth the long search earlier. We were really successful in keeping up, cameras clicking whenever possible until the buck with the dogs in close pursuit disappeared into thick bush.
Whew! What an awesome experience … just the kind is adventure we were here for!
We headed back to the Lodge in high spirits – debating which direction to head in when morning arrives … ‘Our’ 16 dog pack? Or the other dogs and the lions further north? Decisions, decisions …