Death is never far in the wilderness. After decaying hippos, crocs killing crocs and the discovery of all kinds of skeletons, the most fascinating incident was yet to come. It happened on our last morning walk, when Gus was trying to find a big cat, as he put it. All of a sudden a large pack of funny looking creatures raced by us, very close. Some even sped towards us, stopped short as if confused and then followed the pack. “Painted dogs!” Gus hissed, “They are extremely rare. Let’s follow them, they are hunting.”
We were so excited by this unexpected encounter that we immediately fell into a jog as Gus ordered. Our minds raced. Could we possibly track them down? Suddenly, out of nowhere they were there again, right on a clearing, devouring what was left of a cute Impala they had just killed.
Its head was still intact and it looked as if it was sleeping. Gus made us crawl on our knees. Slowly and quietly, we managed to get very close. Some of the dogs lay in the grass, still, completely alert. Guards that watched over the pack like sentries, while the rest was gnawing the meat off the now scattered bones. Without any obvious cue they took turns feeding, in the most orderly and organized fashion. Only when absolutely nothing was left but bones, they slowly moved on.
We remained sitting in the dirt, glued to Gus’ lips. “Pained dogs,” he lectured, “an endangered specie, are extremely skilled hunters that have the highest success rate of all predators,” We were so excited by what we had witnessed that we raced into the warden’s office on our way out of the park and proudly reported the sighting of 13 Painted Dogs.
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