How WILD can it get?

As the sun slowly rises over the horizon the dawn chorus of a new day starts. Crested Francolins call in duet and the birds of prey start to warm up, desperately waiting to catch a morning commute with the rising thermals. It is here on the Southern side of Ndlovu dam where JP Le Roux and myself are doing some filming for our Youtube channel while enjoying a morning French pressed coffee.

With the coffee aroma hanging around us we start to speculate what the day might hold in. Neither JP nor I could have anticipated what would happen as we sip on our morning coffee…

Jp Le Roux, a well-known freelance guide and WildEarth presenter make his way to Pridelands on a regular basis. The previous morning their antenna broke on the bush-walk backpack and has left them without signal for the following morning, giving JP and myself time to do some much-needed filming at Ndlovu dam.

Photographs © Christoff Els

A pleasant surprise

JP arrives at the Pridelands gate every morning around 5:30, this particular morning he spotted 3 wild dogs lying next to the gate. He made a stop strategically so they don’t make a break for it into Hoedspruit town. We rushed to the gate on a game viewer with no luck. One’s gut feeling always knows when you might see something. As soon as we concluded filming at Ndlovu dam, JP showed me how to imitate a certain contact call that Wild Dogs make. Sure enough the moments I looked over his shoulder…there they were – three African Wild dogs. They were about 80 meters behind him curiously listening with their satellite-like ears. My facial expression said it all and JP turned around to witness this pleasant surprise.

Three wild dogs

All that was left for us to do was to sip our coffee and enjoy the sunrise with these three dogs. The sound of squealing brakes in the distance confirmed that news has spread about the wild dogs, luckily our 55-Day Field Guide students were already in prime position on the other side of the dam. I jumped as the opportunity presented itself and took a few pictures of them with the wild dogs.

Photographs © Christoff Els

As they moved from West to East on the opposite side of the dam they started to come closer to us which provided us with an amazing sighting. This gave us a chance to take even more amazing pictures and videos. After further inspection, it became clear that one of the dogs had an injury from a snare around its waist just in front of the hind legs. A distinctive red line around the body confirmed the injury, luckily the snare was not present as it must have wiggled loose from it. As beautiful as this moment was it was also a wake-up call as to why these are one of our most endangered species in South Africa.

And just like that, they disappeared into the rising sun over the dam wall. This was followed by a lot of chatter on the radio as the dogs persistently continued to move East. This gave JP and me a chance to investigate fresh wild dog tracks. We carefully walked up and down the dam wall and searched for the clearest possible tracks.

JP love sharing these experiences and sightings on his Instagram account. You can follow JP le Roux on Instagram @jp.birdfocus.

As we made our way down the dam wall our coffee was finished and we came to the conclusion that this was a good morning.

Photographs © Christoff Els

How wild was that?

After moments like this, I always ask myself: how wild was that? And I can answer that question by saying that anything can happen in the bush. Countless times we have experienced beautiful and insane moments like this by being patient and interpreting animal behavior within these moments. By rushing after animals we sometimes get caught up in the thrill and the “Ferrari Safari”, but having it happen so naturally almost took me back to a moment where this must have been normal for the early man. And for me, that is as wild as it gets!

Endangered Species Day 2021 | Wild Dogs on Foot

The wild dog is one of the world’s most endangered mammals. When a species is defined as endangered, its numbers are incredibly low – in the last few thousand, hundreds, or even tens.

WildEarth presenter Steve Falconbridge encountered a pack of wild dogs on foot in Pridelands Conservancy. Let’s take a walk with Steve and find out why viewing a pack of wild dogs is such a special sighting.

About the Author: 

Christoff Els is EcoTraining’s Visual Content Creator and spends most of his time at our different campsites capturing the beautiful moments one can only find out in the bush.