When I was young I was lucky enough to grow up in a small wildlife reserve in Hoedspruit with a dry riverbed running in front of our house…

Every couple of years or so very heavy rain would fall, and the river would come down in flood. This was always an extremely exciting time for me. The heavy flooding only lasted a few short days and after that the water would start to subside, so to make the most of it all the kids that lived in the reserve would go swimming and splashing around in the river, having lots of fun.

During one of these times, when I was about nine, my brother and I were down in the river, with the cool water flowing below us. My parents happened to turn and look up the riverbed and were amazed to see a pack of five wild dogs watching us from a bit further upstream. They had come down for a drink and stood with their paws in the water. At first, we were nervous to suddenly be so close to wild dogs out in the open. We didn’t want to move and scare them, so we just sat there, quietly watching them drink and splash around. We were in awe at how peaceful and relaxed they were, as though we weren’t even there.

This has always been such a special experience to me, and I am so grateful to have had a unique encounter with such extraordinary creatures.

Written by Asha Loon, 15, second place (Junior) winner of our writing competition.

 

Wild dog photography by Stef Toerien Photography.