It was difficult to assess how long the wild dogs had already been on Kapama when we received word they had been seen. As roamers, they can cover over 50km within a single day and we were not sure if they would stay for a while or move on again as they are not residents of Kapama Reserve. My guests were very eager to see these “painted dogs”. That is often what they are referred to. We decided to head out earlier on one of the afternoon safaris with the hope of finding these amazing predators.
Here are some interesting animals: Here are a few facts you might not know
- The wild dog is referred to as the hunting dog or African-painted dog
- They have colourful, patchy fur of red, black, brown, white, and yellow
- Their bushy tail has a white tip that may serve as a flag to keep the pack in contact while hunting
- No two wild dogs have the same markings, making it easy to identify individuals
- Wild dogs are high-stamina hunters
- They are able to maintain a 40km/h pace over five kilometres
- They can increase their speed to bursts of more than 60km/h for a very short distance.
We headed straight to where they had been spotted earlier that day to see if we could find them or their tracks.
Finally, after a bit of a search, my assistant guide picked up on their tracks and we started following them. Soon enough the tracks disappeared. My assistant guide stepped off the vehicle to have closer look. The tracks went through a huge block of brush which the vehicle could not enter. The best way for us to pick up on them again was to try to go around and see if the tracks came out on the other side. As we approached the junction something caught my eye far ahead on the road. I picked up my binoculars to get a better look and there they were, all lying on the road. We hurriedly made our way closer to ensure my guests could have a good look. But that was not all we were lucky enough to see.
When we arrived we noticed some zebra making their way closer to the dogs. With the dazzle of zebra was a very small foal. When the dogs spotted the baby, you could see their excitement escalate.
First, they were running circles around the zebra herd trying to get to the little one but quickly it turned into a game. The dogs didn’t stand a chance but were very happy to play around. Suddenly the zebras joined the fun and the stallion start running at wild dogs and chasing them.
It went on for at least half an hour before the dogs lost interest and disappeared into the block of thick bush. Soon enough the zebras also moved off, with an air of triumph it seems, leaving us with an unforgettable sighting.
After such a wonderful encounter, we moved off to enjoy a sundowner drinks stop. The only thing our guests could talk about was the incredible wild dog sighting and the interaction with the zebras. As a safari guide, there are two things I always say to my guests: Never miss a game drive as you never know what you see, and 2nd of all – nature always surprises you. This was a safari we will not easily forget.
Story and photos by: Kapama Buffalo Camp guide Hancho