Wild dogs can be quite tricky to get photos of because of the nature of their behaviour. When on the move they are fast and the last thing on your mind, as a guide, is trying to get a photo as you just try and focus on navigating the Land Rover to try and keep up with them. One particular afternoon a little while back a pack of wild dogs was found on our airstrip and I was quite excited to get there quickly as we would hopefully have some great views of them running and playing out in the open. The afternoon did not disappoint!
On arrival at the airstrip we could see another Land Rover parked mid way along with the pack all around them, running and playing just as we had hoped. But as we got closer they quickly took off after some impala that they had noticed further away. I quickly told my guests to hang on as we raced to catch up with them but they were too fast and disappeared out of sight into the thick bush. I switched off the Land Rover to listen for the unmistakable sound of a successful hunt but we couldn’t hear anything.
Ranger Greg Pingo had, in the meantime, raced around to the other side of the thickets where there was a big waterhole and as he got there he saw a young male impala come flying out of the bushes and, with limited options, decided that the waterhole was the only place he could go to get away from the pursuing wild dogs (the impala, not Greg).
I pulled up next to Greg at the waterhole and was greeted by the incredible sight of a pack of wild dogs at the water’s edge anxiously trying to see where the impala had gone. They had heard the splash but by this stage the impala had disappeared amongst the thick surface vegetation of the water. It was also at this point that we noticed a crocodile very quickly and silently swimming in to come and investigate the commotion. It was for this very reason that the wild dogs did not want to venture into the deep water to retrieve their quarry.
The crocodile couldn’t find what had made the splash at first until the impala started to move through the water and then we could only watch in horrified silence as it made a beeline towards the struggling antelope.
The wild dogs could only watch on helplessly as the impala was taken under water but still they waited in the hope that they might be able to win it back somehow. After about ten minutes the crocodile surfaced with the impala near the water’s edge and there were a few interesting moments as one or two dogs even waded into the shallows to see if they could nab the kill back. The crocodile clearly had the upper hand though and dragged it just out of their reach. The wild dogs eventually realised their attempts were futile and turned around to trot back up to the airstrip.
The sun had set at this stage and just as we were about to leave them they tore off again after more impala only this time they were successful. Once we were able to catch up with them the impala that they had caught was already being swiftly devoured in some thickets and with the light fading we decided to leave them. We went off to have a break and catch our breaths after what had been an afternoon of non-stop action.