Friday, 16 November 2012

14th November – Wild Dog Mega-Pack - AMAZING!!!

Photo of the Day
Amazing sighting of a pack of 29 wild dogs in the east this morning!!

Morning Drive
(Chad, Marka and Andrea)
29 x wild dogs – Karans, Bush Braai
1 x leopard (Nthombi female) – Vielmetter, Jaydee Access
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Crossing Below Java
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Great North
1 x buffalo bull – Vielmetter, Vielmetter-Alberts Cutline

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Marka and Herold)
29 x wild dogs – Borneo, Airstrip
3 x leopards (Java Dam female and two sub-adults) – Scholtz, Scholtz-Borneo Cutline
1 x leopard (unidentified male) – Motswari, Ingwelala Airstrip
2 x rhinos
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Argyle Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Jaydee, Nkombi Pan
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Wedge Northern Boundary
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Western Cutline
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Hide Dam
2 x elephant bulls – Vielmetter, Hyena Den
1 x elephant bull – Vielmetter, Western Cutline

1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Wedge Northern Boundary 

1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Wedge Northern Boundary
7 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Wedge Northern Boundary
5 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Wedge Northern Boundary
3 x buffalo bulls – Vielmetter, Western Sharalumi

Daily Synopsis

Having gone on about how special the Timbavati is because of “the unexpected” with my guests over the last few days, im sure they must have thought I was way too biased (and I am)...but then we had a day like today, and everything I believed about how special it was became personified in one of my most special sightings I have had since arriving at Motswari almost 6 years ago!!!

Needing lions, I decided I should go and check in the east to see if the six Jacaranda’s might have come back, so off we headed on a lovely crisp November morning; as usual in the east, things were slow, and we barely even saw impalas as we bumbled along the Kruger boundary, so we stopped to enjoy the lone hippo at Majavi dam, as well as a lone impala...

Moving on after a few minutes, Petros casually pointed forward, and I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when a wild dog popped into vision slowly trotting to the south; moving through the bushes to a small clearing, we saw that there wasn't just one or two, but more than a dozen adults out on the hunt...what a score!

Wild dogs in the east - bonus!

They crossed onto a property that only Motswari traverses, so we had no need to rush the sighting and I let Andrea and Marka know what I had found as I continued to follow the adults through the bush, usually only having visual of one or two dogs...eventually they went static and we could hear the excited chattering of the pack, and I assumed that they might have had a kill, so I went around the mopane thicket, but saw it was just the individual dogs getting excited at the reunion; then more excitedly Petros pointed through the bushes, and there were more than a dozen pups standing watching us!!!

A load of pups!

Having no sooner manoeuvred into a position and somehow managing to get Marka into the sighting (as truthfully, I had no idea where on earth I was!), they all ran off to the west, and we relocated them...all of them...on an old airstrip and sat in awe at the special sighting in front of...TWENTY-NINE of Africa’s second most endangered carnivores standing, playing in the open!


Click for full size

Click for full size


What an amazing sighting of 29 wild dogs!

Now seeing wild dogs anytime is something special, but to see such a large pack is something else, and it is a sight I wont forget in a hurry!  We remained and enjoyed the pack for almost an hour as they soon started moving to the shady areas on the fringe of the airstrip and carried on to go and track down three rhinos nearby.

As it turned out, we never got to the rhinos, as Nthombi leopardess was found in the south-western corner, and heading west to the boundary, so I had to rush...quickly!  As usual, when this is the case, all the animals show up – impala, wildebeest, warthog and nyala were scattered over Java Airstrip, and at the river near the Geiger’s house, a large herd of elephants was drinking and feeding on the lush greenery in the area; not sure I would make the leopard sighting before she crossed into Klaserie, I spent time with the elephants, as rather have that than nothing. 

Roller mobbing a kite, impala and wildebeest, elephant herd and buffalo bull

Nthombi angled more south, so I took a chance, but she was nearing the Argyle Rd when we carried on bumping into animals, like a buffalo, but I pushed on and neared her as she was less than 100m from the boundary...fortunately for me, unlike the lioness yesterday, Nthombi went static, up in a marula tree, and we ended up having a wonderful sighting of this gorgeous leopard posing for photos before leaving her and heading back north, totally loving our luck this morning!

Nthombi resting up a marula

After such a wonderful morning, I didn’t really have any plans, but needed some lions, and buffalos.  As the buffalos love the area north of camp, I headed there, and it didn’t take long to find 6 buffalo bulls and a lone elephant bull feeding and resting in a little thicket.

Buffalo bulls

A bit further along the road we had another 7 or 8 buffalos, and just past them was a breeding herd of elephants that were on Ingwelala, but fed across a clearing in our direction before we continued on towards Argyle Dam to look for some crocodiles.

Elephant herd crossing into Motswari

We did see one in the water before the dam, and another large one in the water at the dam, as well as the usual impalas, waterbuck and hippo around them dam.  Herold was sitting with the wild dogs when they got mobile east towards Kruger, so my idea of going to visit them this afternoon was put to bed early, so instead I went south to see some rhinos.

Hippos at Argyle Dam

Heading south was a touch quiet, but as we got near the old hyena den, we found two hyenas making their way to the den site, but on arriving, rather than finding two small hyenas, we found two large elephants!  So we carried on towards Hide Dam, and found our first lone giraffe for a few drives (although apparently Marka said there had been more than 20 there earlier!).

Hyena, impala, zebra and Giraffe around Hide Dam

Just opposite side of the river, we had a large herd of elephants spread all over the area, as well as two rhinos, and it was wonderful to be surrounded by such large beasts!

Elephants and rhinos together in one sighting

Moving back north, we got lucky and found the mother hyena back at the den with three of the cubs, as well as a sub-adult!  It was a real surprise, as I was convinced that the den site was inactive!  Not that I was complaining, and instead got to sit and enjoy them until another elephant came and chased them back into the hole.

Our hyena den once again active

Herold had spent his afternoon with 29 wild dogs...and was now following three leopards in the east!  Not only is seeing leopards in the east a rarity, but this leap is usually so skittish that following them is impossible, but they had been doing so for almost an hour, so we decided to skip drinks and take a chance and raced back to that area, knowing that they could be lost at anytime...and amazingly, managed to arrive and take over the sighting and spend about 20 minutes with the mother and her two sub-adults; they really didn’t seem to fussed, and while we couldn’t get close or in front of them, they were happy having us there!

They eventually came across a herd of impalas and a scrub hare in a clearing and the two subadults bolted after the hare before turning their attention to the impalas, but after they ran off, the leopards disappeared and we chose to head back to camp!  Not bad for a day in the east, a place where “there are no animals”!!!

Marka also bagged himself a leopard on the way back, to round off an absolutely amazing day in the Timbavati, and one I won’t forget in a hurry...going to be a tough act to follow tomorrow!


  1. As always, stunning photos! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Wonderful pictures Chad and we know how much the wild dogs mean to you!
    Sue and John

  3. Wonderful - 29 wild dogs and all in the open. Wow I am sure you are on a real high!! Great pictures as usual

    Have you decided on the cover picture for your magnum opus ?

  4. Stunning Pics as usual, hope the luck continues :D :D

  5. Glad we were able to share in this exciting day! It was truly an unbelievable experience for us. Timbavati is by far our favorite reserve to date! Thanks for a thrilling ride! Craig & Ginger