Excitement at Seba Camp
My Monday afternoon ended in Seba camp, a camp located in the Abu concession on the western side of the Okavango delta. Seba is a beautifully situated camp looking out onto a lagoon, and one of the few camps where one can sit on the ground around a camp fire at night (oppose to a raised deck like many other camps), giving you that feeling that you really are in a remote part of the world.
After quickly putting down my bags in the room and grabbing my camera bag and jacket, we were off on the afternoon drive. The guide told us about his morning drive, and that they were lucky enough to locate a pack of wild dog that they had not seen in the area for over 4 months! He took us to the place they had last been seen that morning, and of course they had moved. We drove around the area and as we came around a bend in the road, out the corner of my eye I spotted that distinct painted coat slinking through the yellow grass.
We sat with the dogs for about 10 minutes and then, all of a sudden as if they had been having a conversation about their plans, they were up and on the move, and this was when the excitement started…
They headed straight in the direction of camp and popped out in an open area covered by sage. In the distance was a herd of impala, and walking straight toward them was a large kudu bull. It was decision time and one could feel the anticipation of what was about to unfold.
They were off! Straight in the direction of the herd of impala. The impala burst into every direction and it was impossible to keep track of where the dogs had gone. We sped forward to try keep up with the action and just as we did a group of impala came running straight back past us followed by a single dog. They narrowly escaped and the dog turned back to join the rest of the pack.
This excitement continued for the next half an hour as the pack of wild dogs made their way toward the airstrip, terrorizing every herd of impala it came across, but somehow just couldn’t seem to finish off the hunt. We followed them onto the dirt airstrip and watched as they seemed to have given up on the hunt. They played and chased each other along the strip with the sun setting behind them, sending dust up into the air as twilight began to set in.
Just as we thought that it was time to head back to camp and that there could not possibly be any more action for the night, a flurry of excitement triggered in the pack and they began to squeal and head off into the bush at high speed. Curious, we decided to follow and see what all the hype was about and as we followed the noise off the road we found them devouring an antelope! How they had managed to catch this while we had been with them the entire time still remains a mystery, but we watched in awe as they ate. Moments later two hyenas appeared and charged the dogs, chasing them off the nearly finished carcass and carrying it off into the darkness.
For me, wild dogs are one of the most exciting predators. They are highly social and to watch them hunt like this was an absolute privilege. They are extremely tenacious and have a “never say die attitude”, which is probably one of the reasons they are still holding on as a species under such pressure to survive.