Many rangers, in collaboration with their trackers, tend to have a general plan when they leave camp of what they’re going to look for on a game drive based on what their guests would like to see. But as much as we like to have a plan, nature doesn’t often abide and quite often the plan goes out the window to make room for an unexpected occurrence. This is no more true than with wild dogs who seem to pop up and disappear at the most unexpected times. I refer to one particular morning recently where we had been tracking the lionesses from the Mhangeni pride for over an hour with little to no luck. The tracks moved through a very thick area where a number of elephants were now feeding, forcing us to divert off course. After some time we managed to re-find fresh tracks, and with renewed optimism continued following the lions down into the Sand River. At this point, Freddy Ngobeni, the tracker I work with, looked up and exclaimed with immense excitement in his voice “wild dog, wild dog!”. Immediately I erupted with elation as we watched the dogs slowly trotting on the northern side of the Sand River.

In true wild dog fashion, the pack sharply changed direction and demeanor and began chasing after an old nyala bull who was no match for the determined dogs. Having witnessed the beginning of the hunt from the southern side of the river, and with limited access, we raced around to a crossing point where we caught the culmination of the hunt and the successful take down of the big male nyala.

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The bloodied face and muzzle of a wild dog after taking down the nyala. Despite it appearing quite brutal, these animals kill their prey incredibly quickly and efficiently, with the nyala succumbing to shock and blood loss. The kills are often much faster than that of a lion or leopard kill.

wild dogs kill nyala

Once the pack has the animal down, they feed simultaneously, sharing amongst them. This incredible team work and pack mentality is another reason they are such incredible animals to watch.

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A Tawny Eagle comes in to land so that it can scavenge off the remains of the nyala once the dogs have moved off.

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One of the dogs scans for the presence of other predators or any other potential danger, whilst the rest of the group feeds.

Being such endangered animals, it is always incredibly exciting to see wild dogs but to see them on foot and hunting, completely made the morning for all of us. Proof that sometimes the best plan is in fact scrapping the plan and just going along with what nature puts on offer.

Filed under Wildlife

About the Author

Callum Gowar

Field Guide

Growing up in Cape Town, the opposite end of South Africa from its main wildlife areas, didn't slow Callum down when embarking on his ranger training at Londolozi at the start of 2015. He had slowly begun moving north-east through the country anyway, ...

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3 Comments

on The African Wild Dog: On the Hunt Again…

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Ian Hall
Guest

I was incredibly fortunate to see a Wild Dog hunt from start to finish at Londolozi in 2014. Simon Smit was the ranger and his driving that day was amazingly proficient . The hunt appeared chaotic but in reality was anything but.
After around 18 safaris to Africa and one to India – it was one of the best game drives I had ever been on.
Testament to the quality of Londolozi was that looking back on all the game drives over twenty years three of the top 5 were at Londolozi

Judy Guffey
Guest

Callum and Freddy. What a team. We watched a wild dog takedown of an impala (cornered in the water) with that great team last November. Londolozi….where my heart is!

Dana Robinson
Guest

Loved watching Freddy and Callum, and Tally and Rich, work together. Their excitement at finding the unexpected is contagious. Just developed some pics from our recent trip. We experienced so many amazing things. We are all ready to visit again.

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