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Wild dogs and Lebala (w/video clips)

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Just back from 5 nights at Lebala plus a few more at Savuti.

The highlight at Lebala, by far, was the wild dogs. The Lebala pack numbers 7 adults, including an alpha male and alpha female. They all seem healthy and in good shape.

We were especially lucky to also see the Lagoon pack, which was denning with its 15 or so puppies, all from the same mother. Absolutely awesome, and they, too, seemed very healthy. The puppies are now 7 weeks old, so some of the greatest dangers to their well-being has passed.

It will take me a while to get photos up on the web, but I do have a couple of video clips.
The first one is the pack from Lebala, and this is their afternoon “meet and greet” session. Before the evening hunt, the dogs go through a ritual where they will cavort with each other, jump up and down, and generally resemble a bunch of schoolboys playing and wrestling. The second video is of the puppies. The third video comes with a caution: the video was taken just a few minutes after one of the dogs had taken down a steenbok, and some of the images could make some people uncomfortable. Consider yourselves warned.

http://vimeo.com/1460950 -- meet and greet
http://vimeo.com/1461114 -- puppies
http://vimeo.com/1461153 -- steenbok for dinner

(Unfortunately, I haven’t yet figured out either how to do any video editing or how to get real HD in the files I upload to Vimeo.)

The water levels in northern Botswana are incredibly high this year, due to the abnormal rains earlier in the year in Angola. This has led to lots of interesting phenomena – for example, parts of the Savuti Channel are seeing water for the first time in more than 20 years. This has generally made it more challenging to find game, as there are many more watering holes than would usually be the case in late July/early August.

The new tents are in place at Lebala, and they bear only a passing resemblance to the old ones. The canvas is gone, replaced by full-length screening and a hard-sided roof. You enter the tent by a sliding screen door – no more zipping and unzipping tent flaps. The tents still have a veranda that looks out onto the plain. The toilet/washing area offers more privacy than did the old tents, and the outdoor shower area now has space for two people to shower. The tents have 24-hr electricity, which simplifies battery recharging. It’s certainly less rustic than before, and each person will have to decide whether the changes are overall for the better or worse.

I don’t have enough energy right now for a real trip report; this will have to do for the moment.

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