In a recent blog on the African Wild Dogs, “A Shocking Surprise: Sink or Swim”, I experienced what I thought was a once-in-a-lifetime sighting of a wild dog pack chasing a duiker into a dam and subsequently killing it as it was retrieved from the water. It was such an amazing sighting and never did I expect to witness such an event again in my life. However, a few months later, pretty much the exact same thing happened…
Our initial plan for the morning game drive was quickly put on hold as Freddy Ngobeni, the tracker I work with, found very fresh tracks of the African Wild Dogs. Adrenalin immediately starts to flow aggressively when fresh tracks of a dog pack are found, and the excitement levels of potentially finding them are high. A few minutes passed by after finding the initial tracks when my vehicle erupted with joy – running around a prominent clearing we spotted the wild dogs!
After experiencing an incredible sighting of these endangered animals and thinking that it simply couldn’t get any better… it did. As the dogs were going for a drink around a large dam, they caught sight of a lonely female impala. Their primal instinct as hunters went into overdrive and the dogs launched their attack, chasing the terrified impala in the water. With no escape route for the impala as the dogs had the waterhole surrounded, it struggled to keep its head above water and made a number of attempts to flee the scene, only to get chased hurriedly back in up to its neck.
Many of the dogs lay down by the water’s edge waiting patiently for the impala to make its next move. After an hour or so, one of the dogs brazenly launched itself into the water, grabbed the impala by the ear and dragged it onto dry land, where the exhausted animal did not have the strength to fight any longer and simply gave in to the ferocious appetite of the dogs.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT.
As unpleasant as it is to witness the demise of any wild animal, especially under the teeth of a wild dog pack, who can be especially brutal, it is nevertheless always a privilege to witness nature at its rawest.
We as spectators can do little more than observe, probably thankful on some subconscious level that we are no longer a part of the food chain like we once were…