A Dog Day Afternoon

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It’s a dogs life having to scavenge for food. Every day’s the same. It’s hot, it’s dusty, and nothing likes you, not even your own kind. You survive on your wits and the skills taught you by your mother before she abandoned you. If you don’t find something to , you die.

Life is tough for a Jackal!

If you want to see Jackals, Kgalagadi has to be the place. I don’t think I have ever seen as many of these animals in thirty years as I did in one week in Kgalagadi. I have to say I was surprised because the Kgalagadi is a harsh place. To survive, and even thrive in such an environment is testament to the incredible survival skills of these animals. What was interesting to observe that despite the harshness of the land and the huge expanses of territory they have to cover scavenging for food I can’t remember seeing a single thin animal. They were all, lean and trim and alert, and completely comfortable with themselves.

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One of the best sightings was at a Gemsbok carcass. The Gemsbok had been killed by a lion and when we found it was already mobbed by Jackals. They came from nowhere one after another. It was if the bush telegraph had told them of the free meal. They quickly gobbled down mouthfuls of flesh, all the while nervously looking around and then left, to be quickly replaced by another and another in a constant procession that went on for hours.

Sitting watching the spectacle it was interesting to observe what happened when a more dominant animal approached the carcass. Immediately those feeding became submissive.

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After the feast many of the Jackals headed off to the local waterhole for a drink, obviously to sate the salty taste of blood. Even though none of the waterholes in Kgalagadi have crocodiles it was interesting to observe how nervous the jackals were as they approached the water. Obviously its a time of danger for them, but what danger I don’t know.

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Basically every night of the trip we were visited by Jackals. Sometimes we saw their eyes shining in a torch beam. Other times we would see their tracks outside our accommodation or round the truck. Whilst in Nossob, we were visited every evening by one half blind guy we ended up calling “Jack”. He appeared as soon as we lit the fire to cook dinner. He stayed just out of the range of the light patiently watching us and despite numerous attempts to chase him off never moved an inch. In the end we accepted his company and gave up trying to chase him away.  Obviously he was hoping for some food, and whilst it was tempting to throw him a bone he ended up with nothing.

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He was obviously not a young dog and knew the situation. I guess he figured we would only be there a few days and the next visitor to the hut would be more benevolent!

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