We have a group chat on WhatsApp with our neighbours here in the staff village in Letaba. It is convenient to keep each other posted on any sort of emergencies, power outages, or to check if some one needs something from town. We live very remote, and you can’t exactly drive back to town for an hour if you forgot the milk, so it helps if one of the neighbours can pick something up for you. But the group chat is also nice to share interesting sightings close to the staff village. One morning a few months back, I got a message that four wild dogs had killed an impala on the entrance road to the staff village.
Now that obviously is an opportunity too good to pass up! So the boys and I dropped what we were doing and got into the car. Excitement all round! My neighbour told us she saw the dogs past the emergency road services buildings. So that is where we were heading. I wondered why there were only four wild dogs. We see a pack quite regularly between Letaba and Phalaborwa. I believe it is called that Phalaborwa pack and they are a lot bigger than just four dogs. Maybe these four split off from the main pack for a bit? Or they started a new pack of their own?
It was just after 7 o’clock and the workers were arriving at the site of the emergency road services. But that did not seem to bother the wild dogs at all, whom we found a mere 100 metres from there! They were right next to the road! The impala that they had caught was almost finished. Only the head and neck were untouched. As well as some of the skin on the side of the ribcage.
I don’t know if you have ever witnessed a wild dog kill. It is quite amazing. I was on a sunset drive from Lower Sabie once, with my friend who was head guide there at the time. Minutes out of camp, a pack of wild dogs came out of a no entry road and killed an impala right in front of the truck! They finished it in the space of minutes! The sounds of bones breaking and meat being torn off are still fresh in my memory. As well as the high pitch chirping and chattering of the dogs while they were busy devouring this poor impala. So this impala kill we were now watching right next to the car, must have happened not even half an hour before.
We watched as the dogs were starting to lie down next to what was left of the impala. They were taking turns, having a last few mouths full. I absolutely love watching wild dogs. They are so pretty. Not one of them looks the same. Each with a different pattern of spots and amount of white on their tail. We don’t get to see them relaxing like this very often. They are very active and often on the move, so this was extra special spending time close to them like that.
Unfortunately I had to turn around after only a short 15 minutes to handle a code brown situation on Jack. When I came back after changing his nappy, the dogs were gone. They had left the rest of the impala and I am sure the resident hyenas were very grateful for that later that evening!
We have seen these four wild dogs a few more times after that in the staff village. Steven told me that when I was in Holland with the boys this summer, they came running right past the house!! How I wish I could have seen that! I saw on the sightings board next to the shop this morning people reported a wild dog sighting close to Letaba. I will be on the look out for them!!