AFRICAN WILD DOGS ON PHINDA!
The fresh smell of scorched earth after its been replenished by rain filled our lungs as we packed up our drink stop and started heading homeward.
As we came into a nice clearing, I looked up to the sky and saw something we hadn’t seen in a week…stars. Phinda Private Game Reserve received some much needed early rains of late. A dose of 200mm poured down and it was with some relief that I looked upon these tiny candles. I decided to have a quick star talk with my guests. As I reached for my trusty star pointer I heard a loud whooping sound. My mouth went dry. A distinct different whoop to that of a hyena. It couldn’t be, could it?
“Pat, spotlight, quickly!” I exclaimed. Pat dashed the spotlight in the direction of the sound and uttered 2 of the most magical words to my ears:"Wild dog!"
My heart leaped into my throat, adrenalin pulsed through my veins! Was this really happening!? But how? We don’t have African wild dogs on Phinda! I ambled the vehicle towards the dog. Being a diurnal animal we immediately switched the spotlight off. It was pretty dark by now but we could still make out the shape of the dog, now only about 20 feet away. I could make out that he was sniffing the ground, possibly looking for the rest of the pack. Our patience was soon rewarded. The dog looked up and started jogging in our direction. As he got to the vehicle he stopped, listened and then it came again – a call that starts off low and ends with a distinctive high note. In a flash he was on the run again and soon out of sight.
After doing some research we’ve come to the conclusion that this dog is from the neighboring Mkuze Game Reserve. The next day rangers in the north of Phinda found a pack of 9 wild dogs hunting nyala. This is absolutely amazing news. The last time a pack of African wild dogs crossed on to Phinda was about 6 years ago. Let’s hope they stay for a while…
Posted: Phinda by Jacques-Pierre Joubert, Date: 26 September 2012