At all of the Kruger Park camps they have a sightings board. This gives and idea of what people have seen that day and where. For the last 3 days there had been Wild Dog sightings along a track just north of Shingwedzi. We still hadn’t seen these endangered animals despite looking for them in various places during our trip so the hunt was on. Sightings of them are rare, even for regular visitors to Kruger, and we didn’t really rate our chances but this was probably the best opportunity we were going to get. Most Wild Dog sightings are in the early morning so it was an early start for us again. As the camp site was allegedly full (actually it wasn’t but who are we to say) we had booked a very cheap chalet, or ‘hut’ as the website describes them. In fact it was a very comfy semi-detached room with a sink and fridge, a shady deck with chairs and table as well as a braai. It wasn’t that much more expensive than camping and was great for getting up early as we didn’t have to pack the tent away.
The ‘hut’, our accommodation for 2 nights
We were at the gate at dawn. Our route took us alongside a dry river bed. We stopped at regular intervals to look down along the river for any sign of life. After about half an hour we saw movement far up the river. You could just make them out with the binoculars – they were dogs. We hurried down the track to where we’d seen them. The presence of another car, stopped at the side of the road, confirmed the location. There they were, a bit of a way off as the river was wide and the banks high. But we’d finally seen Wild Dog after months of fruitless searching. They had the remains of something which they were chewing and pulling at between them. It was great watching their interaction.
Then they disappeared behind the bushes along the bank below us, back the way we’d come. By now a couple of other cars had joined us and we all turned round to see if we could follow them. We slowly drove round the corner and there in the road was a dog. Then another, then another. There seemed to be dogs everywhere, and they were all around the car, 9 of them in total. We’ve seen photos that people have taken of dogs in front of them in the road but never really imagined we would see them this close. They were playing with each other, lying in the road right next to us, trotting past the car and sniffing at it. They were there for about 10 minutes, showing no fear, just occasional curiosity, and getting on with their day. They are also known as Painted Dogs and you can see why.
Wild Dog lying right next to the car
Checking us out
They were so close this was the widest angle I could get
Completely un-phased by the cars, these guys were about to greet their mates
I guess you can’t get flea spray in the Kruger
One getting a bit of an ear chewing…
It was incredible. We could not believe our luck.
Back at camp we celebrated with a glass of Painted Dog Shiraz, bought from the camp shop. Perfick. We were joined by a very friendly and inquisitive squirrel that tried to climb on the camera each time I tried to get a shot.
Nice end to a great day.