African wild dogs on the hunt

On first encounter, nature seems cruel. But a sighting like this reminds us that in the bush, the loss of a life sustains the future for others. This natural order of things is critical to the survival of the highly endangered wild dog.

In the early morning of 11 November, a pack of African wild dogs were seen up north on Lion Sands’ Sabi Sand side chasing impala through the bush. At this time of year, many of the female impala are pregnant and move a bit slower, so are ideal prey for the dogs.

Having made a kill, but then lost it to a clan of spotted hyena, the pack rested for the day and only became active again just before dusk. They headed to a nearby waterhole for a quick drink, before getting on the move to look for herds of impala. Updates on the radio suggested that the pack was moving east and we decided to follow them into the area.

Our attention was caught when a small herd of impala came sprinting from the dry riverbed towards the road, with one of the dogs in hot pursuit! Stopping the vehicle to see what would happen, we could hear elephants trumpeting and realised that the rest of the pack was coming our way. It wasn’t too long before they dashed past and we set off after them…

Approaching an open area – which, as luck would have it, is also a safari sundowner stop – there they were, feasting on a female impala. We witnessed a feeding frenzy, and watched in awe as the impala carcass quickly disappeared. What was absolutely ‘wild’, was seeing one of the dogs sneaking the foetus a short distance away from the pack to devour its prize. This time, the dogs managed to finish the kill before the hyenas arrived!

Words and videography by: Field Guide Quinton Paul Josop

Image by: Charlotte Arthun

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