September 7, 2012 by Noelle DiLorenzo
Camouflage is a large part of many animals defence system in the bush. Lions can conceal them selves in the grass with their tawny coats, kudu have disruptive markings to break up their body shape and help to blend into their thick, busy habitat, and leopards are covered in a pattern of rosettes that make them look like part of a tree trunk or dappled earth. Other animals, like zebra, have stripes that allow them to blend into the background, especially at a distance. Dude to these remarkable systems, many times a log, a stump, or even another animal at a distance can resemble an elusive cat or other predator.
Yesterday morning my guest and I went to investigate an area where several of the Mwamba Pride had killed a baby buffalo the night before. As we approached the spot near the Ebony Grove, I could see three figures on the opposite Nsefu Sector bank. My mind immediately said DOG! But as there are rarely any sightings of jackal and our pack of Wild Dogs has not been seen this season, as well as the fact that Wild Dog are rare in the park as well, I thought to myself that my mind was playing tricks with me and they must be a well placed animal of another sort.
Still, I lifted my binos to get a better look, just on the off chance that the shapes across the bank may well in fact be the ever elusive Wild Dog, and low-and-behold they were! Three of them, no more than sixty meters from our bank, and they were in perfect view. I excitedly explained to my guest where they were situated. We were both grinning from ear to ear as we decided to reposition the vehicle to get a better view.
From our new vantage point we watched them dig in the sand, be chased away by hippo and come back to the edge of the water to taunt a crocodile. Derek and his guests joined us in the sighting and then followed them down the Luangwa past Mchenja where we were afford another fantastic view of the drinking, playing in the water, and then finally trotting off. Just before they left our view they started to hunt and chase a puku. We lost visual of them as they raced into the bushes on the far side of the bank after what would hopefully be their morning tea snack.
PS: thank you to Chris Tickner for these great pictures!