One of my favourite animals is the African wild dog. Few other creatures have the energy to spare that the wild dog has. On a recent trip to Chitabe camp in the Okavango, we had the good fortune to encounter a pack of approximately 16 wild dogs late one afternoon. We spent an hour and a half watching the dogs, and there was scarcely a minute when there wasn’t something happening among the members of the pack.
We were led to the dogs by the presence of several hooded vultures roosting in some dead trees nearby. The vultures follow the wild dogs for two reasons: the chance of feeding on any parts of a prey animal that the dogs may leave behind, and so that they can feed on the dogs’ faeces. Although the vultures never pose any threat, the young dogs in this pack took it upon themselves to chase them off. While the adults were slowly waking up, yawning and stretching in anticipation of a late-afternoon hunt, the youngsters alternately stalked and then ran at the hooded vultures. Once all the vultures had flown to high and safe perches, the young dogs then took to chasing one another. By this time the adults were up and on the move, and we followed them at a distance.
They moved from one rain-filled pan (*or* pool) of water to the next, and provided us with some excellent opportunities to photograph them. A few of the dogs became quite excited at the sight of a spur-winged goose swimming in the water and made as if to give chase, but the wily goose simply swam deeper into the pool.
We left the dogs staring with deep intent at some distant impala as the light began to fade and slowly made our way back to camp. We were all intensely hoping that, with our images, we had managed to capture at least some of the energy and spirit that fuels wild dogs.
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