MBWA MWITU back in the Serengeti !!
Lycaon pictus (english name "Wild Dog" somewhat misleading) have been seen in the Serengeti !!
Many of us share that lore for those majestic communal hunters.
Serengeti was the place, where early films & books exposed them to the wazungu public.
They were gone, and have now returned!
This is a short account of a (somewhat biographical) personal journey in search of the wild dogs of Serengeti-Mara ecosystem
1970s - my first exposure to those fantastic predators thanks to Hugo Van-Lawick, first his books and photos and then his films
Books like “Solo – the Story of an African Wild Dog”
“Innocent Killers” by Van-Lawick & Goodall (a must for those Fodorites who by chance might have missed this book) & other photographic books
‘Legendary’ George Schaller writing about the dogs (e.g. in his book “The Serengeti Lion”
Was it Robert Ardrey (“African Genesis”/”Territorial Imperative” ??) that has gone with Schaller & seen a kill ?? – I evied him so much !!!
I’ve read all these before I ever made my first safari, thinking to myself that once I get there, it’s only natural to find & watch these imagination-capturing creatures
On every gate I used to ask:
“Mzee – mbwa mwitu iko wapi ?”
-“Hakuna” was the automatic answer. Most common word in east-africa
My first 10 months or so of wandering around were full of “Hakuna”s
But the dogs r no legend - In remote areas of Samburu and Pokot tribes, warriors and even children sometimes were pointing with gleaming faces at the drawings in my mammal-guide, often imitating their sounds
Finally, there was the first actual sighting:
1983 my first dogs at the ecosystem – Masaai Mara side. There were only 5 of them, which made me worry about them, it is a far too marginal number when considering chances of survival (according to the literature) unless somewhere secure, there’s a den, with a good number of cubs to be recruited in the near future…
Later I’ve had 2 more sightings : one a den with cubs in Mara & an amazing observation out of the park on the Aitong plains on the way to Narok : A maasai was shooting poisonous arrows at a small pack (which was fortunately out of range). For me it was the first time I’ve seen a maasai with with poison-arrows and it gave some validity to stories I’ve heard about the wild shootings of wild-dogs.
1994 At Naabi Gate: there is a note calling any driver who spots the dogs to report & receive US $ 100 (when mentioning it this year, a local driver-guide told me he remembers it was only $50…) The thought comes to my mind: they r probably gone from the Serengeti… so sad ….
The famous movies by Van-Lawick r from Serengeti,
the most famous stills-shot is (IMHO) the one on the cover of “Among predators and Prey” (Van-Lawick 1986) taken in Serengeti & yet THEY r not there anymore, on those fabulous plains… so very sad…
May 2006 – before another visit to Serengeti; “The dogs have been seen on the periphery of Serengeti” tells me a good friend who is the most updated person (reads virtually everything published), on any subject from African ecology to ethnobotany…
July 2006 – Answering my mail, another good friend, stationed in TZ, sends me his PHOTOS of those wild dogs at PIAYA Serengeti !
The DOGS R BACK !!
P.S. i've sure missed some observation in between (1994 & present) - this is why u r here to add...
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MBWA MWITU back in the Serengeti !!