The day started with a drizzle and it looked as if more rain was about to fall from the dark skies..
To be honest, that’s never a good sign for game viewing. Or wait, that’s not entirely true. Either there’s nothing at all to see, or it’s just the most astonishing game viewing ever! With rain, it’s often either or… nothing in between.
We started off pretty good as we found the Manyelethi Lion males; a brotherhood of 4 big male lions that even managed to defeat the seemingly invincible Mlowathi males, by killing the beautiful Kinky Tail and chasing the totally ugly and scary Mohawk off to the South, where he’s believed to have joined up again with his remaining brothers. The Manyelethi Males are in impressive bunch; one has a nose so scarred that it appears totally black. One of them has only one upper fang and one has impressive black manes. Despite the rain I was happily snapping away.
And than … all hell broke loose as one of the rangers, Dean, called in a sighting at Mala Mala’s airstrip, that sent all the rangers out there that morning in a state that can only be described as ‘mental’ 🙂
Immediately radio traffic went crazy as all the rangers ‘booked in’ on this very rare sighting; the elusive Cape Hunting Dogs (2nd rarest predator in the whole of the African continent) hadn’t been seen in Mala Mala since January. A sighting like this, 7 dogs on the hunt for breakfast, made every vehicle out there that morning do a back-flip and head off for the airstrip.
Mala Mala has the strictest and most disciplined rules for game viewing I’ve ever seen in a Game Reserve. Speed limits are observed meticulously, radio traffic is completely silent as all the rangers wear earphones and there’s a strict sequence to the vehicles allowed at one sighting. Also the number of vehicles allowed at a sighting is limited to three.
But today, with the find of the Wild Dogs, all of the rangers went bezerk as everyone wanted to book in first. Funny to watch even these guys, who spend every day in the bush, get so excited over one particular animal.
We were at the lions sighting when the call came in through Matt’s earphone.. His eyes went wide, he shouted something in the radio, grunted his teeth for not being the one that had found the sighting, and revved up the car. The only thing he said was “Hold on”.. 🙂
When we arrived at the scene at the airstrip, 7 Wild Dogs were there. Playing, running, hunting. Guests and rangers alike were snapping their heads off! Circumstances for photographing the dogs were difficult as it was still very early in the morning and totally overcast. Really hard to catch the never ending energy of these beautiful animals.
The pack of dogs went off in their typical, seemingly effortless trot, clearly on the hunt for breakfast, and we followed them as good as we could. At one point, a herd of Impala were close so an excited murmur went through the cars. But it was the antilopes lucky day as the dogs didn’t pick up the scent. A little further a group of Baboons had spotted the predators on the hunt and fled up a tree, shouting insults at the hungry pack.
The whole sighting was absolutely fantastic!! With difficulty we had to leave the scene, to let another vehicle take its turn. The rest of the gamedrive went by uneventfully but it didn’t matter at all. The Wild Dog sighting kept everybody – guests ànd rangers – totally excited for the rest of the day!