We chased the chasers. Could these cute puppies be savage killers? The alpha female had a warthog dinner on her mind. But as she reached its tail it shot down a porcupine den to safety.
The pack of rare African wild dogs hovered around the hole, visibly miffed at the loss of their meal. Having bumped our way through the bush at high-speed following the chase, we now watched from our open jeep, exhilarated by this incredible experience on our first day in Linyanti.
Then the unthinkable happened. The warthog dared to come out. We willed it to go back, but it was too late; its death was inevitable. Earlier we’d watched the dogs greet each other excitedly after their siesta, and despite the gruesome scene, we now watched as another endearing (yes, really) aspect of this fascinating creature unfolded. In an altruistic canine version of ‘family hold back’, the pack dropped back to let youngsters and old timers eat their fill.
It was an extraordinary scene that left me torn with mixed emotions of horror, pity and compassion.
Lagoon Camp in northern Botswana is run by Kwando Safaris. It is one of the best places to see wild dogs in the whole of Africa. Having a passion for these painted pooches I have been here quite a few times. It’s not just the fact that there is a pack of dogs resident here much of the year, but the guides and spotters are like a breed apart when it comes to finding them in the midst of this vast wilderness.
Returning back to camp after a successful day’s safari, you feel like you’ve earned the tasty pre-dinner nibbles and generous G&Ts you’re offered before heading to your tent to knock some of the dust off.
Most people’s idea of a luxury tent would be a canvas affair that you could stand up in, didn’t leak, and where the blow-up mattress didn’t slowly deflate overnight. Lagoon’s tents are the size of a small house, albeit with canvas walls. With polished wood floors, a rolltop bath, cosy chairs, huge beds and a verandah overlooking the lagoon, you’d happily stay a week.
Add to this the elephants, hippos and myriad of birds usually seen from camp, plus the prolific wildlife in the surrounding reserve and you can probably see why people tend to return here. The draw of the wild pulls strongly from this neck of the woods.