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Hunters

Ralik just ran in with a baby mouse. He was yelling his head off with excitement, batting it around and throwing it in the air.I took it outside and left it somewhere quiet, hidden under leaves. I think it will die.  It occurred to me that there's been a lot of death around me  for a couple of years and I'm sick of it, which is weird considering how in love I am with the African Bush, pretty much the Garden of Life and Death.

We were warned that African Wild Dogs were extremely rare, and then we just bumped into a pack of them on the road. Some had tracker collars as part of Botswana's conservation and research programme. Wild Dogs have suffered a lot from extermination by farmers, but there are efforts being made to protect them now.

These ones were getting ready.



Then the guide drove our cruiser parallel, as the dogs  walked, began to trot, began to run, began to sprint.  We couldn't see the prey,only ostriches and others scattering in all directions. African wild dogs have the reputation of being the most efficient hunters in the Bush. They are incredibly intelligent and tactical, with a whole bunch of different strategies for hunting.  This time their method was straight lock on; Having chosen their prey, they just kept in pursuit, waiting for it to stumble; as the leader tired, the dog behind took over, and so on and so on, faster and faster, until a cloud of dust went up behind a bush and all was done.

We never saw the kill. I am glad of that.

They were very quick, and then they came down to the water to drink and rest.



The hunt was extraordinary and exciting to watch, but it was also a thing of necessity, a story ending not just with bones behind a bush but with meat regurgitated for pups.   I couldn't help comparing it to those ghoul feasts of the English countryside, where an animal is terrified and killed as nothing more than entertainment for the sherry fueled.  This is one of the reasons we need our land re-wilding; for many, the disconnect is total and grotesque.

Dervish has found the mouse corpse, and is throwing it around joyfully. It's summer and even death enjoys a little sunshine. Someone has posted a pic of my old friend Lilith Babellon who died suddenly last year, alongside a quote from her: 'Get off the ground darling, you're drunk. And don't you dare take a picture of me smoking.' Naturally, the photo reveals her with a ciggie in hand.

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