Sacred Combe Safari IV
Many years ago, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, in the course of their 60s television programme Not Only… But Also, used to put on their cloth caps and morph into Dud and Pete. Funny, I thought, funny… so they always said, anyway, and on one of these occasions they talked about the problems they had getting to sleep at night. “You’ll never guess who was in my bed? Bloody Jayne Mansfield! Wearing a shortie see-through nightie… I said get out of here! Get out…”
It was like that when we tried to go for a walk in North Luangwa National Park in Zambia. We were driving off towards a place where we were going to start a nice walk – with the scout David Ng’uni keeping us safe – and try and look for lions. But you’ll never guess who got in our way? Bloody wild dogs!
Coming at us completely unexpectedly, in the way that dogs do. We stopped the vehicle and watched as the dogs finished their breakfast, which was a buffalo calf: how wonderful it is to see dogs, so exotic, and at the same time, looking as they had just come bounding out of your own back door, ready to fetch a stick or two with their tails hard a-wag.
There were six of them, all sharing their meal with great joy, in the supremely sociable way that dogs live. And then three of them went bounding off, to our complete mystification. An enemy, lion or hyena? An antelope to chase for the second course?
But then the three came back more jolly than ever – and with them came eight puppies, their feathery white tails waving at the sky, and the grownup dogs shared their meal with the pups and there was a great romping scene of doggy merriness all over the bush. When dogs are jolly, the watching humans get the jollity full blast: we know dogs better than any other non-human creatures: we share their joys and want only to romp with the whole pack until we are all tired.
Eventually the dogs finished their meal and they pulled into deep bush to rest, and we were at last able to start our walk. And once we started walking, we had to change direction and find another route. You’ll never guess who got in our way. Bloody elephants…