We've met our match, and it's the wild dog. Our check list is almost complete. We found almost all rare animals we set out to see, but the elusive wild dog – it numbers only in the few thousand for all of Africa - has evaded us. We knew Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Nature Reserve had them, and for two days straight roamed its dirt roads in search of the elusive animal. We were not the only ones. Apparently some of the dogs had radio collars, and besides countless photographers and tourists trying to catch a glimpse, there were people with antennas and radio receivers. We tried to follow them at some point, but they had no luck either. Finally we found the pack. We could see them in the distance, just finishing a meal of fresh killed antelope. We stopped and watched them until they took off again. They were running towards a dirt road we knew all too well by now. This was our chance to cut them off and get our shot, but starting up a hill we realized our back left tire was completely flat. Cautions to the wind but keeping in mind the lions we saw yesterday in the vicinity, Shurik got out of the car and used our last tire patch to plug the hole. We pumped up the tire a bit and set off again, only to realize that the same wheel had another puncture. I and Vova were stumped, but Shurik quickly fashioned a patch out of duct tape. We were mobile again, but it was too late to catch up with the dogs. Close, but no cigar. Shockingly, Shurik's inventive patch still holds.
Though our minds were set on photographing the wild dogs, it was hard to ignore the rest of the animals in the park. It was like the 1st of September. Everywhere we looked, pre-K candidates were stumbling out the bushes on shaky feet, hiding behind moms' bums. The sight could melt the coldest of hearts. A young zebra foal is nothing but striped bushy mane and legs, a baby vervet monkey is all pink ears, and a rhino calf cannot be more adorable in a defensive stance with its bump of a horn next to his quietly grazing mother – her horn the length of his whole head.