The pack of wild dogs began moving just before sunset. A balmy winter’s afternoon breathed across of the open savannah as the pack ran in a westerly direction. The alpha female led the charge followed by the other adults with the young pups and a limping male close behind. Ardently searching for an opportunity to hunt, the dogs covered a massive amount of terrain as they got a feel for the rhythm of the bushveld. What they could not have excepted, however, was an encounter with Africa’s largest living land mammal – the elephant.
Bounding along main road, the pack herd a crack of branches to their south and veered off in that direction. It could have been anything, however to the trained ear it was clearly a breeding herd of elephants. The crackling of branches continued as the breeding herd nervously shuffled around, aware of the disturbed silence. A low rumble from the matriarch signaled the herd to stick together and within a matter of seconds they were tightly bunched up, awaiting the potential threat.
As the dogs ran through the bush and saw the elephants, the matriarch let rip with a booming trumpet and rushed forward at the pack. The next 2 minutes were absolute chaos as the herd followed the rampant matriarch in her desperate attempt to chase the dogs off.
Once the animals had split up the commotion died down and the pack of dogs continued on their mission to find a potential prey species to hunt. Although it is extremely unlikely that a pack of wild dogs will ever hunt a baby elephant, one must never rule out the impossible. I believe that elephants have a tendency to view all forms of predators as a threat and thus behave in such an aggressive manner towards them. Never shy to stand their ground and assert their size, this herd of elephants did have young calves within their ranks and thus decided to take no chances.
This was without a doubt one of the most interesting interactions I have ever witnessed between wild dogs and another species at Londolozi. If it was possible to keep up with wild dogs when running and hunting through the bush, I know that we would witness their wierd and wonderful encounter with many other species of animals.
Have you ever witnessed a wild dog interacting with another species? Let us know in the comments section below.
Photographed and Written by: Rich Laburn
Filmed by: Rita Shaw and Rich Laburn