August 2021

Where’s the action?

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Where’s the action?

Tyme Mutema
By Tyme Mutema
Field Guide

I was allocated as the safari guide and host of guests that were coming to stay
with us at Singita  Pamushana for a week. Upon enquiring as to their safari expectations they told me that all they wanted to see was action…

We aim to deliver a unique safari experience that is not necessarily non-stop action and racing from sighting to sighting, but rather an authentic, immersive and unforgettable lifetime experience. However, I knew what they desired so I tried to tailor-make their time with us by concentrating on following the predators, especially the River Pride of lions. Seven days of excellent sightings passed, but little “action”.

I have a saying that goes, "It’s not over until it’s over." On the last morning I learned that wild dog tracks had been seen on the eastern boundary of the reserve, so, at the crack of dawn, we headed straight there to be able to have ample time to do a thorough search, as wild dogs are predominantly active at dawn and dusk. We knew a pack had been denning recently but no one had seen puppies yet.

On the eastern boundary we found the tracks but they were a day or two old, and it was not tracks of the whole pack. They headed in a westerly direction towards Nduna, so without wasting any time we headed to Nduna Dam.

At the top end of the dam there was no evidence at all but what caught my attention was the lack of any plains game at this precious watering hole. It is paradise for impala but on this morning not a single one was in sight – it was suspiciously quiet. Then my tracker David and I heard a sound that was music to our ears - the perfect hooping sound coming from the Nduna Lodge area. We raced over there and instantly saw two adult dogs standing a metre apart, with a dead female nyala between them. As I tried to calm the noise of the voices, excitement and cameras in the car an adult dog appeared from the hills followed by ten adorable little puppies!

The pups were at first hesitant and a little nervous to approach something they had never seen since their arrival, so I reversed a bit to give them space. I parked our game viewer about 50 metres away and five more adult dogs appeared from different directions, making a total of eight adults and ten puppies. The adults would feed and the little ones would then beg regurgitation from the adults. This kept on happening until they finished feeding on the carcass and later headed to the dam for a drink, then found a nice shady spot to relax and digest in the shade of the miombo woodland on the edge of the sandstone kopjes.