As Tintswalo guides, we are lucky to work in an area that is home to one of the last free-roaming packs of wild dogs in South Africa.
Wild dogs live a nomadic lifestyle, covering huge distances. The reserve itself is massive — some 50 000 hectares — and the pack often dens in adjacent reserves. But every now and then, they wonder into Lapalala on their hunts, and we have a chance of seeing these elusive predators.
On a beautiful overcast morning last week, we were greeted by a sight that you can not capture in words. The dogs were finally spotted close to the kubu dam area. And there weren’t just one or two – but ELEVEN dogs in total. This is truly amazing when you consider the size of the reserve and how slight the chances are that we would stumble on the dogs. The pack was made up of three adults and eight sub adults – a breakaway from the 18-dog pack that normally sticks together.
The dogs spent some time around the water, drinking, playing and communicating with each other before moving into the thick patches of bush around the dam. We followed them for a while, before they swiftly moved into the higher cliffs for the day.
Wild dogs are critically endangered in Africa, and the Lapalala pack is followed closely by scientists and ecologists from the Endangered Wildlife Trust, ensuring the pack is safe and the population is growing. They may be one of the last free-roaming packs in South Africa, but at least they are well protected here in Lapalala. It certainly won’t be the last time we see them.