Back in the Jo’berg airport again, but this time after having spent two days in the Okavango Delta at Chitabe Tent Camp. 1/2 of us arrived 1 1/2 days late, having barely made it when our last flight was delayed and the sun’s descent meant we might not be able to take the small plane to the isolated camp: couldn’t land after dark. But we squeaked in, blank eyed and exhausted and then spent two days in heaven. We not only saw AWD’s, we were able to be with Tico when he radio collared “Jones,” the dominant breeding male of a pack about two 1/2 hours away from the camp.
The group that arrived on time spent 5 hours one afternoon/evening and 14 hours with Tico and his radio transmitter trying to find the pack, which they found late the afternoon the rest of us arrived. We left early the next morning, in hopes the pack hadn’t moved, and after driving not through a woods but over it (to be explained when I return) we found one adult, and then bang, right straight in front of us: 12 or 14 pups, just out of the den. The adults are habituated to people, but the pups were just out of the den in that they were no longer running back to it, so they took off and the adults followed. We carefully followed them for about 45 minutes, radio antenna held on high, and they finally settled down, pups and adults both.
It was a wonderful experience for people who want to see what field work is really like: Tico’s first 2 darts missed, we were almost out of time (he had a plane to catch later that day) but the 3rd time was a charm, and Jones got the dart full in the thigh muscle (only possible target), and went down close by in 10 minutes.
We all got to watch Tico take all his data, put the radio collar on Jones, and then we all got to get out and touch Jones, look into his mouth (poor guy, two horribly infected teeth), pet his stiff, hard fur. It was miraculous. Most people never ever get to see dogs, even after spending hours, days, weeks, looking, and we spent most of the morning with them. Amazing. Photos to follow.
Three more planes to home (have taken 2 already). Others waiting for a terminal to check in, so will go now. All on trip are fine, full of stories of wonder and adventure. Some good, some not so good, but all experiences to cherish the rest of our lives.
I’m coming Lassie….. soon.