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.

Two hyenas and a Wild dog watch on as members of their respective clan/pack.

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.

A bloodied coat of one of the wild dogs indicates that they had made a kill prior to us viewing them and potentially the reason for attracting the hyenas.

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.

Again, bloody coats are evident on more of the wild dogs as they begin to try and chase away one of the hyenas, with the arrival of a second hyena pictured in the background.

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.

Having initially made some ground away from the clan, a dog turns back to observe eight advancing hyenas, somewhat awkwardly yet purposefully walking after the pack.

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.

Ranger Alex Jordan RUINS my photograph as the pack of wild dogs proceed up the road and towards the airstrip.

A brave wild dog has a brief stare-down with the territorial male wildebeest.

It was amazing to watch the formation of a defense line perfectly executed by the herd of wildebeest and did not take long for the overzealous wild dogs, whom in this area typically prey on more vulnerable and smaller antelope species like nyala, impala, and duiker.

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!

Two of the wild dogs joyfully playing together as the remainder of the pack and clan of hyenas began to settle and rest in the shade.



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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on Hyenas vs Wild Dogs

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Marinda Drake

Always great to see interaction between predators. Is the Toulon pack still around? Are these wild dogs part of that pack?

Ian Hall

Is this what is meant by a purple patch? Sounds amazing, glad that there were no fatalities

Jenn Anderson

Love this post! It’s wonderful you were able to share this experience with your loved ones…it creates a deep sense of connection. (…and I love the phot “ruined” by Alex Jordan, LOL! Thanks for the chuckle! 🙂

Lisa Hilger

Wild dogs are second on my list with elephants at number one when we visit. I know they are a rare sighting so how very special this particular drive must have been!

Mj Bradley

Wow, what an experience!

Wendy Hawkins

Thank you Callum for these wonderful pictures of the interaction between these two & I love your write up too! Have a good week 🙂

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