Waking up to the early morning sounds of the bush remains an incredible experience. However, hearing the distress call of an antelope, a few hundred meters outside of your lodge, immediately heightens all of your senses.
I’ve spent a wonderful week in paradise at the striking Toro Yaka Bush lodge in the Balule Private Game Reserve. While getting ready for one of the game drives at 5:20 am, I heard a distress call of what I first thought to be an Impala just outside the gate of the lodge. I knew something had gone down. The ranger quickly assembled all the guests and we headed off in search of this unnerving sound.
We circled one of the blocks, but couldn’t see anything through the thicket. Some impala were looking attentively in the direction from where the sound came. My adrenaline started pumping and excitement kicked in. Could it have been a kill? Was it a leopard?
We came through the block for a second round. Then all of a sudden the ranger paused, peered through the thick vegetation and remarked eagerly, “Wild Dogs on a kill”.
I couldn’t believe my luck! We approached the sighting and saw a pack of wild dogs frantically scurrying around. Barks and squeals consumed the air around us. It was manic, yet sensational. Then we spotted the victim. It was a female Kudu and there was already hardly anything left of her. This all happened in the space of around 20 minutes and the sun had only just started to reveal itself over the horizon.
At this point I had to compose myself and take a moment to reflect on what it was that I was experiencing. I had only been fortunate enough to see these highly endangered wild dogs once before. Let alone feeding on a fresh kill.
The canines were moving around in all directions. Each one seemed to be carrying a bone or licking blood off of another family member.
We witnessed the efficiency with which these dogs hunt and feed and it is astounding. They seemed to be content with their meal and started getting ready to move off while the crushing of a few bones was still heard in the back ground. We moved out of the sighting and carried on with our drive.
This was an incredibly rare event to witness and I will always cherish the memory of standing at the gates of Toro Yaka and being startled by that mysterious, thrilling sound.