Wakey wakey, 3:20 am, a new day is upon is. Yawn! Yes, morning seemed to have come way too early even though I didn’t sleep that well (skipping a meal is not a good idea).
Today it was my turn to sit behind the driver and be in charge of the telemetric antenna and the receiver. And I can tell you that I was tested! When we did the first check just before we reached the wild dog den, it turned out we were too late! They had gone already! Now the guides are thinking about leaving even earlier in the morning! WaterbuckTsessebeFruitbat!
This is a bit of a joke among us as we often have to write down the most unpronounceable place names on the data sheets. Spelling it to non-English people is sometimes a bit eventful so instead of using the international alphabet Wihan has started using animals instead.
Because the dogs were on the move we had to scan whilst driving. I am telling you, that wasn’t easy. It’s never easy but especially now when it’s your first time around.
They seemed to be EVERYWHERE. One minute they were on this side, then on the other, a bit later they were totally out of reach, making us think they went back to the den.
As we got near to it, and did another scan, they were off again.
We seemed to be driving everywhere.
Lest not forget it was raining, cold, very windy, sunny, rainy, … Do I need to go on?
I think you get the picture. So did my arms. It’s though, holding the antenna up and doing scans in order to keep them within reach. Those dogs run fast.
After a while it was getting hard for me to both control the antenna and read/listen to what the receiver had to say (beep) so Sanne, one of the other volunteers helped me out as we also had to give the info to the Anel. Our efforts paid off!! Finally, visual at 4 o clock! Fantastic, but there were only 3 of them, the three males. Where was the female?
Anyways, we kept on tracking them and it seemed we were driving parallel to them. And yes, there they were again! Such a great thing to do and see. They were totally oblivious to the fact that were there. They were trotting away. Where they able to get a kill? Did they eat enough to maybe feed the pupp(y)ies who are inside the den? Oh yeah, surprise. The pack have pupp(y)ies stowed away in their den. They are around 8 weeks now and should be making their first appearance soon! Please let it be within the next 10 days!! Can you imagine.. puppy wild dogs?
Anel was pretty sure they were headed back to their den so that’s where we were headed towards as well. As we got closer, we did the usual check and could see that the males were almost there AND the female was scanned as well. That was a relief. Here we were, knowing the whereabouts of all our dogs, so a suitable time to have a coffee & a rusk (or two). As we were about at to start… lady wild dog decided to trot by. Fantastic!
This pack doesn’t really have an alpha male. Who sired the pups we will never know. A wild dog pack usually has an alpha female & alpha male. Let’s just say that in our opinion, this lady runs the pack and she does so very well.
After our coffee and chat we moved on.
I must say that both Anel & Wihan are very knowledgeable and have a wonderful way of telling, explaining, teaching us all about these magnificent animals – and others (also magnificent of course). It is absolutely fantastic to hear people speak passionately about what they are doing. And when they are doing it in a way these two are doing it, bring on more of this! I want and need to learn more.
Rain, sunshine and wind kept us company the entire morning. We tried scanning for some other collared animals, without luck.
So far today we haven’t seen that many animals at all. A what seemed like battling-the-wind-eagle and gorgeous little leopard tortoise just by the side of the road
Back at camp now and we have a few hours to kill. We spend it talking, reading, writing, some of us sleeping. I am going to try to not do this for as long as possible. I want to sleep properly at night.
We also decided to change the going-on’s of the day a bit. The last two days we have had light lunches and late dinners. We pretty much ate and had to go to bed like half an hour later. From now on we’ll have a cooked late lunch and have something small for dinner.