Whilst lions and buffalo or lions and hyenas are often touted as being the most iconic of Africa’s wildlife rivalries, one that often escapes the limelight is that of hyena versus wild dog.
Many times over the years have we witnessed these two predators – one incredibly endangered and one incredibly misunderstood – going toe to toe over the remains of a kill, which more often than not has been made by the dogs.
Hyenas, being opportunistic, will often follow packs of wild dogs on the hunt, knowing that the dogs’ extremely high success rates will usually mean there will be some scraps left over, or if the hyenas are present in sufficient numbers they will sometimes be able to drive the pack off their kill.
A recent sighting of a pack of six dogs saw Roddy Watson enjoying front row seats to some unbelievable interaction between the two species.
Their vehicle had bumped into the pack early on a grey morning, and it wasn’t long before they had taken off after a herd of impala. Trying to keep up in the Land Rover, they caught up with five of the six dogs, who had been unsuccessful on the hunt and were milling around, clearly waiting for the 6th member to show itself. Eventually it hove into view with blood all over its face, a clear sign that it had made a kill. It trotted off with the rest of the pack following.
So smoothly do wild dogs move through the bush that it was again difficult for Roddy’s vehicle to keep up, and when they eventually did come up to the dogs once more, the pack was already interacting with a clan of marauding hyenas. Take a look at the stunning video below:
From what he saw, Roddy was convinced the single wild dog had made the kill, then gone to fetch its pack-mates. Whilst away, the hyenas started arriving, forcing the dogs to steal their kill back and then attempt to defend it against an ever-growing number of hyenas, that were most likely attracted by the cacophony of calls from both their own clan and the wild dog pack.
Eventually the hyenas moved in in sufficient numbers to complete the rout and drive the dogs off the impala carcass.
Realising that to stay and fight over what were now essentially scraps would have been dangerous and most likely a waste of energy, the pack turned away and trotted off through the scrub.
I like the fact that the hyenas regrouped in this sighting. Often it’s when things seem the most chaotic in nature that the most opportunity is to be found, which can often be mirrored in human society.
By simply recognizing their opportunity and coming together in sufficient numbers, the hyenas were able to snap up a relatively easy meal. Although oft maligned, it is in scenarios exactly like the one shown above that hyenas prove why they are so successful:
Opportunity + cohesive action = success.
Video by Roddy Watson