Wim Reports from Okavango – Machaba: Two Kills in Minutes …
Today was one of those days that one hopes for in the bush … and when they happen, the memories – and photos to match – are there for a lifetime.
It was quite cloudy and drizzly at times, and if anything, this seemed to give the animals, especially the predators, added energy.
We headed to Mogotlo after a quick check to find the 6 dogs we had seen yesterday.
On the way the birders in our group were ultra delighted when a Dwarf Bittern flew up from less than 2 meters from our vehicle to perch on a branch at eye-level and maybe an arms length from us. Cameras clicked noisily …
As we arrived at Mogotlo we almost immediately found the 16 Wild Dogs. They were getting up and it was clear that they were about to start a hunt.
What a morning followed!
The hunt was frantic, with dogs running, chasing, heading off groups of animals. We kept up with the chase as the excited yips, adrenalin, chaos, fast moving action barely gave us a moment to breathe.
Then, like a well-oiled machine, the dogs worked together to corner a youngish Kudu – 18 months old or thereabouts. They chased him back and forth with us close behind, cameras trying hard to capture every second of the exhilarating experience.
Then, with the dogs almost onto him, the kudu did a surprising 180* turn … and was hurtling directly back at us. We slammed on brakes to prevent a collision and to our amazement the kudu leaped and sailed directly over our vehicle.
We swung around to continue the chase – as as all 16 dogs dashed on one side of a bush, we chose the opposite side. As we passed the bush, there were the dogs – with the kudu. A successful kill.
We settled down, still shaking from the incredible experience, and started to photograph the frenetic feeding ritual.
After a few seconds, 4 of the dogs suddenly broke away and started to run. Not sure what was going on, we followed, almost instinctively. The dogs had spotted another kudu, and were after this one … again we managed to keep up, and were a mere 5 meters away when the dogs took down their second catch within minutes!
We remained with the pack, photographing the intense, frenzied feeding rituals, until most of the kill was gone, and only then did we return to the Lodge – late for mealtime but very, very thrilled with the events of the morning.
This afternoon we encountered a large, healthy male lion soon after leaving camp, and spent our time with him. Not only was he very photogenic, he also chose the best possible positions for photography. At sunset he jumped to the top of a large termite mound from where he gazed around regally. He looked magnificent, and with the dramatic colors of the setting sun and the clouds behind him, the scene was just perfect.
Could it be any better! Yes! The lion started to roar – and roar – and roar! On and on the sound reverberated across the countryside, instilling awe into all in earshot!
A second vehicle joined us and we took turns lighting the lion as he ambled through the bush –
– backlit shots, side-lit shots, silhouettes, flash – we used every lighting technique and amassed an enviable collection of photos of our cooperative subject. Then the lion started to hunt, and disappeared into dense vegetation.
As it was well after dark by now, we turned back to the Lodge, where we are about to enjoy our dinner. Everyone is feeling totally euphoric after such a phenomenal day, where spectacular experiences just didn’t stop!
Tomorrow, maybe we will start with the lion – or back at the dogs …???