I’ve met my match, and it’s the wild dog. My check of rare African animals is almost complete, but the elusive wild dog, numbering only in the few thousand for all of Africa, has evaded me so far. I knew Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Nature Reserve had them, and for two days straight I roamed its dirt roads in search of the elusive animal. I was not the only one. Apparently some of the dogs have radio collars, and besides countless photographers and tourists trying to catch a glimpse, there were people with antennas and radio receivers. I tried to follow them at some point, but they had no luck either.

Finally, the pack was found. I could see them in the distance, just finishing a meal of fresh killed antelope, and watched them until they took off again. They were running towards a dirt road I knew all too well by now. This was the chance to cut them off and get my shot, but starting up a hill it turned out a back left tire was completely flat. Cautions to the wind but keeping in mind the lions spotted yesterday in the vicinity, one of my travel mates – Alex, got out of the car and used the last tire patch to plug the hole. With the tire partially inflated, we set off again, only to realize that the same wheel had another puncture. I was stumped, but Alex quickly fashioned another patch out of duct tape. We were mobile once again, but it was too late to catch up with the dogs.

Though my mind was set on photographing the wild dogs, it was hard to ignore the rest of the animals in the park. It was like the first of September. Everywhere I 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.