Good news from Sichelesile Ndlovu, the first female Assistant Tracker we have had.
Here is her account of how she, and Jealous, found the Destiny pack after weeks of searching and amid fears of rabies spreading:
When you begin to confuse the tweets of birds to a beep signal from the head phones and when you halt the car for almost every animal track you see on the road then you know you haven’t really been seeing dogs for a long time. It had been nearly 2 weeks without any sightings of the Destiny pack which is being monitored for rabies as its home range was overlapping with the Mabuyamabhema Pack, which got wiped out by the disease last month.
Undeterred by setbacks of past days, we began our tracking with so much enthusiasm that we were going to see the dogs. Jealous was behind the wheel and I was wearing the headphones attentively listening to every sound that comes out of them. A few kilometres into the Hwange National Park, just by the Nyamandlovu turnoff Jealous had a glimpse of some spoors, he stopped the vehicle, we had a look around and YES there were dog spoors but their direction was opposite to where our vehicle was heading. We followed the track of the spoors but a few meters from the turnoff we lost the them. Jealous made a U-turn and moved towards Nyamandlovu pan loop road, he spotted dog spoors again. As we climbed off the Landrover, before us stood a jackal and on our right hand side there was a hyena standing still and you could see it sniffing. Just as I suspected but not confindent enough to mention before my senior does, Jealous said the dogs must have killed something around the area. Now with these clues, worryingly enough there was still no beep on my head phones. After taking a few pics of the hyena we proceeded. Am sure Jealous drove about 100m and I burst out saying STOP, he turned and looked at me and said ‘signal’ I just nodded with a smile and he took over. We have found the Destiny pack! He manoeuvred off road with the directional antenna on his hand and about 500m from the Main Camp’s Sinamatela road all the seven dogs were lying with noticeable very full bellies. They all looked healthy and strong. Careful not to disturb their peace, we took a few pictures and left them to rest.
And to conclude the morning we were blessed with rains after really hot dry days.