NAME: Amy Attenborough
DIARY ENTRIES: 2
PHOTOS UPLOADED: 106
VIDEOS UPLOADED: 3
CURRENT COMPANY: Ngala
One of the best sightings of my career came about while on a holiday at our And Beyond lodge, Sandibe, in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. We had been following a pack of Wild dogs all morning, while they hunted unsuccessfully in some open grasslands. For any of you that have tried to follow a pack of dogs, you will know that you typically have to fly at ridiculous speeds, off road, to keep up with them otherwise they’ll disappear in a flash of black, tan and white and that will be the end of that. Keeping this in mind our ranger was so intent on keeping up with the dogs that he didn’t notice a large marshy patch in front of the vehicle and proceeded to bog the whole vehicle in it.
The vehicle was full of rangers and with none of us being particularly afraid of a little mud, we leapt out to see how we could rectify the situation. The dogs had moved off quite a distance by this stage but with all the movement and noise around our vehicle they soon moved back to get a better look. They circled the vehicle, yapping and jumping up on their back legs to see what we were up to. Soon enough they lost interest in our antics and moved off to see if they could find anything to fill their bellies.
While jacking the vehicle up and trying to slide logs under the tyres we heard some commotion coming from the direction the dogs had gone in. While scanning with our binoculars, we spotted a leopard that the dogs had flushed during their hunting campaign and which had very wisely shot up a tree for safety. Fueled by this latest addition to the sighting we doubled our efforts and successfully managed to get the vehicle out of its muddy prison.
We knew that two other vehicles had stayed with the dogs so we decided to spend a bit of time photographing the beautiful, relaxed female leopard, who lounged lazily above our vehicle looking down at us every now and again with very little interest. During the sighting the other rangers contacted our vehicle to say that the dogs had scattered a herd of impala and killed two of the adults. At this point I was quite disappointed, thinking we had missed the core of the action. But how wrong I was.
When we got there, the dogs were still tearing the adult impalas into chunks and carrying around the heads as trophies, while a few others guarded a young impala that they had chased into a small pan. Wild dogs are typically not worried about running through water but I think this group were unsure if this pan had any crocodiles in it and were not prepared to take any risks.
For the next hour, the dogs chased the impala back and forth across the pan, tiring the young animal out. It was a cloudy day and a mixture of shock and the weather had the impala shivering in the cold shallows. And if this wasn’t enough, the impala’s neck was soon covered in leeches. Eventually, the impala seemed to give up the fight and started swimming for our vehicle. It would go under for a few seconds and pop up again having made a few meters advance. Literally as soon as it reached the bank, three dogs sprinted into the shallows, grabbed it by the face and pulled it out of the water where it was swiftly devoured by the pack.
It really was one of the most exciting mornings I’ve had in the bush and well worth the muddied clothes.