We had to find these dogs. As we can’t do interior shots without light, we decided to get up early and use that time to go and look for the dogs. Since they had been active around the periphery of the camp for the past two days, we thought it would be a doddle. But we were in for a hunt and we didn’t know it! When you are specifically looking for something in the bush, unless it wants you to see it, it is not going to show itself to you! That is one of the incontrovertible “bush laws”. No matter how hard you wish for it!
The signs in the morning that are left from the activities of the night before, or just before sunrise, are like reading the daily newspaper for the guides. Even in very soft sandy roads, they are able to “read” all the news and give an account of what has been happening while we have been sleeping. What had happened is that the dogs decided to change their restaurant! Chez DumaTau had been productive for the past two days, but now it was time for a change. They chased down the transit road very early – perhaps a good couple of hours ahead of us. We followed the spoor carefully noting that sometimes the pack was running and other times they were slow. We managed to discern that there were five in the pack. We drove, stopped, looked, identified the spoor and then drove on some more. Checking, chasing, hoping.
Then we lost the spoor! Aaarggghhh, noooooooooo! We had to make a call – follow along the river or back into the bush. Decision made – follow the river. No tracks for a while. This is the time to persevere. Don’t question the decision, just accept that you have made a call and you have to go with it. No doubt: Just as you do when you select a lane in the traffic in order to save time, and then hope that your previous lane doesn’t suddenly start to flow! But here you can’t jump from one lane to the next and back again – you just have to keep going.
And then we found them again – tracks! What good fortune! Does that mean we were just lucky or did we think about it and make the right call? We followed now with great anticipation and relief that we were back on track.
The bush makes you think. It gives you the space and the time to explore your mind in the quietness away from the frenzy of our normal lives. In the city we have to create the space especially to find the gap to rest and let our creativity flow. But out here, it is different. The spaces are there – you just need to tap into them.
We stopped in the road and waited. At a trot the first two dogs came around the corner, and then we saw the other two dogs behind them and finally the straggler. They shot straight past us as if we were not even there – completely invisible. Their faces and necks were stained pink from the ferocity with which they had consumed their morning meal. This fleeting glimpse of the dogs was the confirmation that our chase and interpretation of all the bush signs were spot on. What a victory!
But the story doesn’t end there. Later that morning we were on our way back to camp when we came across a herd of Impala. That in itself is really not particularly interesting. However, there was one male here that is very interesting. He has a horn impaled in the right side of his neck that he must have in got in a fight at some stage. It looks so completely strange to see this “thing” sticking out of his neck – but he seems totally oblivious of it. I am sure he was not oblivious at the time, but you can see that the horn is impaled under the skin and not penetrating any vital parts of his neck and is being held in place because there are one or two rows of ridges that are buried quite far up. This is indeed an unusual sighting. The guides were initially quite concerned about whether or not he would be able to withstand such a wound, but several months later it appears that it has not interfered with him at all. Very interesting.
All in a day’s “work” and now back to camp. Tomorrow we are off to Abu Camp in the Okavango Delta.