Being a wildlife volunteer with Wildlife ACT at iMfolozi (South Africa) can sometimes mean driving many miles in search of African wild dogs.
It’s a big puzzle tracking wild dogs down!
Off we set on our daily afternoon drive in a hot iMfolozi park, looking for the Madlozi pack. We managed to arrive at a point with very strong signal for one of the dogs when we became distracted… at least 50 birds were soaring above and around us. Awesome! They were vultures, riding thermals in the air right above us.
Seeing them fly like that distracted us from looking for the wild dogs. The whole day had been overcast and cool, thus there wasn’t enough hot air to create proper thermal air currents for the birds to ride and rise higher into the air. Thermals are pockets of air that rise as they are warmed by the heating ground. Vultures are one of the larger species of bird that use these air pockets, often spiraling in tight circles without even beating a wing, rising to astonishing heights.
We were all hypnotized by the sight of it. Suddenly we were reminded of our task as the wild dogs of the Madlozi pack popped up right next to our vehicle, almost without us noticing!
The wild dogs surrounded our vehicle, once again hypnotizing us as to the beauty and wonders of the nature that iMfolozi has to offer.
Post: Magda Rozenboom-Verhaar
Monitor and photos: Peter Thorpe
Conservation Volunteers: Marian van Wijk, Miranda Langhenkel, Rene Verhaar and Magda Rozenboom-Verhaar