Rueben and I picked up a signal from the Bedford Pack soon after we’d found their spoor along a dirt road. We drove in the appropriate direction, dodging pairs of temperamental bull elephants on the way, until the signal was coming from a place we could not drive to, and so got out and walked off through the thick bush, keeping our eyes open. A scrambling sound on one of the granite kopjes (small hills) to our right made me swing around, and I caught a glimpse of something that wasn’t an antelope furrily scampering away. Leopard, I wondered? However, it turned out to be the unassuming Rock Hyrax…
Rueben walks FAST through the bush, and I had trouble keeping up with him. This is what you see walking behind him (when you catch up):
However, we walked all the way to another road, where we found the Bedford Pack’s tracks, running along the road. So we returned to the vehicle and pursued them again hoping they’d stay close to the road this time.
Rueben banged on the roof, and I braked quickly. “Do you see them?” he asked, but I could not. He is excellent at spotting animals, and it’s helped by the fact that when we’re radio-tracking from the vehicle, he sits high up in the back, with a much better view than mine from the driving seat. Soon I could see the Bedford Pack retreating further down the road partially hidden by some long dry grass. We got close enough that Rueben counted 31 individuals present, the same number he’d counted previously. Although they were constantly on the move and hard to watch, they did seem to be hanging around a particular general area—which we soon explained:
Rueben spotted some vultures and we pulled over to investigate; Rueben seems to have a knack of walking directly towards what he’s looking for even if he doesn’t know where it is. Three minutes walk from the road, in a dry V-shaped gulley, with an audience of vultures spectating patiently, lay a female Kudu, her back end bloody but her eyes not yet misted over. Rueben found fresh Wild Dog spoor and estimated that the Kudu was killed less than two hours ago by members of the Bedford Pack. Here is a picture of it.
Her front half was still untouched, and Rueben suggested that a couple of dogs must have been hunting separately from the rest of the pack, and had eaten their fill before returning to fetch the rest of the pack.
We popped back to the vehicle to fetch some more equipment and returned. In the few moments we were gone, the kill had been dragged several feet away. Some animal must be very close by and probably watching us….We had a good look around, but saw nothing. Rueben suggested the vultures had done it, but then I found fresh canine marks in the Kudu’s neck that were not there before; the Wild Dogs must still have been close, around us.
From the fact that we counted the full pack present, it seems that all the Bedford Pack’s pups from this year are still alive and well, which is great news.
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See you later,