Working and living in the bush affords us the opportunity to experience amazing sightings on an almost daily basis. These sightings are always special but can be made that much more meaningful if spent with the people that mean the most to us. It is not often that family and friends get to experience these sightings with you, however a couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of driving my mother and girlfriend around when we came upon such a sighting.
The interaction between different predators always makes for phenomenal game viewing. With a high density of large predators on Londolozi, we are fortunate to view such interactions on a fairly regular basis.
When my mother expressed that she had never previously seen wild dogs before I decided that that was the animal that I wanted to show her. Having left Varty Camp just after sunrise one morning, we had heard on the radio that as luck would have it a pack of wild dogs had been found very close to camp, and so we immediately headed there.
With energy levels palpable on the vehicle we quickly raced to where the dogs were seen and found them running on the road towards our Land Rover. Shortly afterwards the pack bumped into and starting interacting with a clan of hyenas. Initially just one hyena was visible, then suddenly two, then before we knew it there were nine wild dogs and eight hyenas chasing after one another, filling the crisp morning air with squeals, yips, growls and and an array of other calls.
It is not unusual to find a hyena or two trailing a wild dog pack in an attempt to steal a kill from them if they are successful in making one. On this particular morning, the pack was obviously disturbed by the hyenas and tried to chase them away so as to be able to hunt without the threat of these prolific scavengers looming over them.
Moving closer towards the Londolozi airstrip the interaction continued but now with the a herd of wildebeest thrown into the mix. The inquisitive nature of the wild dogs led them to investigating the wildebeest as potential prey but soon lost interest as the wildbeest formed a line of defence, making it extremely difficult for the pack to isolate one individual.
As the wildebeest watched from a safe distance, the hyenas and wild dogs proceeded to challenge one another for supremacy. A relentless attack was launched by the wild dogs as they managed to isolate one of the hyenas, biting at its hind legs before reinforcements arrived from the remainder of the clan.
As the morning temperatures began to rise both of the predator groups inevitably started resting in the shade, at which point the attacks and interaction subsided. What made this experience more memorable what not only the fact that I was lucky enough to have my girlfriend and mum along, but the following morning we were lucky enough to find the wild dogs again and once again interacting with the same clan of hyenas!