Climate and Landscape
With winter in full swing, temperatures remained pleasantly cool throughout July. Most animals became more active, even during the warmest times of the day, which made for great game viewing throughout the entire month.
Our guides and guests were delighted to have encountered some outstanding experiences in the area this month.
The wild dogs were restless as they are denning; they were seen in a constant state of high activity, all around our prime game-drive area. We haven’t been able to see or count the puppies yet as they are still young and too vulnerable to be outside their home burrow.
In one breathtaking action, the dogs found themselves caught in the middle of a breeding herd of elephants, which they ran into by accident. The elephants reacted to their presence by trumpeting and bellowing continuously, kicking dust and mock-charging them. That action fascinated the dogs as much as it did our guests, especially when the dogs decided to join the game, mocking the elephants. They went around in circles until we almost lost sight of them all, due to the dust! Eventually the dust cleared a bit, just at the right time, as the sun was heading down and creating a magnificent sunset. Finally, the dogs gave up and moved on with their hunt since they were running out of light and they had a lactating mother and other dogs waiting to be fed at the den.
In another action, they were found chasing a herd of at least two hundred buffalo. The adult buffalo did not feel threatened by the dogs but kept moving in circles to protect the small calves within the herd for fear of them being caught off guard. This was a very unusual situation to have come across and we were left with two possible reasons to debate what could have attracted the dogs to the buffalo; one, we thought it could be because the buffalo were advancing too close to the den, which would attract other predators like lions – very often lions will follow large herds of buffalo for greater hunting opportunities. Our second thought was they might have been steering the herd to seek out the weaker calves that would provide easy prey.
On the last day on the month, we watched a rather shocking encounter when the dogs unexpectedly ran into a large herd of impala at a waterhole. Dogs were scattered all over the area leaving no escape for the antelope and five impalas were taken down at that scene. At the end of the feeding session, it appeared to be an absolute waste since they could not finish them all – but no meat ever goes to waste in the bush and before long a large pack of hyaena appeared and it was all cleaned up.
The female cheetah with her two sub-adults cubs remained to the north-east of us, but did make few brief appearances into our area in July. Her youngsters are still looking in very good condition – a testament to the hunting skills of their mother, especially now when the cubs are still not actively participating in the hunts. In all four of her appearances this month, which were all within short intervals when she stayed at least three days each time, twice she was found feeding, and twice she was seen hunting and chasing . One of the times she was successful and the other time she wasn’t. We presume she is returning often to our area because of the open grassland plains that she is adapted to hunt in successfully.