A Wild Walking Encounter in South Luangwa

“When we arrive at the crime scene, barely any evidence remains. Only a few blood-soaked blades of grass, glistening in the tangerine dawn sunshine, reveal foul play has been afoot.

By now the perpetrators are long gone, having raced into the dense teak forest, so thick and lush in late spring. Yet only minutes earlier, ‘detective’ Kanga and I had been hot on their tails, as urgent shrieks ripped through the Zambian bush and a very violent murder unfolded.”

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It’s one thing to watch a predator take down its prey on Discovery Channel from the comfort of your own couch, it’s quite another to actually experience it first-hand. Sarah Marshall recently discovered this when she found herself in the midst of a wild dog hunt while out on walking safari with Robin Pope Safaris. Her description of the event alone is enough to give you goosebumps…

“Bounding vertically like a bouncy ball, a male impala starts frantically stotting, a display to deter potential attackers, indicating he’s being chased – most likely by a pack of wild dogs.

Flock of Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris) running on the banks of the Luangwa River. South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.

Panic spirals like a tornado as guinea fowl screech and opportunistic hooded vultures swoop down in anticipation of a fresh feed.

To our left, baboons are barking ferociously, a sign their nemesis, the leopard, must be in the vicinity. Sure enough, we see a flash of silky rosettes slinking through the undergrowth. But there are far wilier criminals in the area. A shrill cry leads us to a clearing but by the time we arrive, the deed is already done.

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Large ears pivoting like satellite dishes, the wild dogs have detected our presence. For a few minutes I stand 100 metres from them, staring eye to eye, before they cautiously trot away. There’s been a kill and we were in the middle of it, listening to every alarm call and sensing the rising panic, as if we were part of the chase.”

That is the magic of a walking safari. It concentrates on not only seeing but experiencing the wild for yourself. It is first hand encounters with wildlife such as this one that really makes one appreciate the beauty and complexity of nature. To read Sarah’s full tale  of her walking safari, click here.

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