Often a great sighting can unfold by just sitting in silence and observing the animals we see every day. On this particular morning we were observing a journey of giraffes as they made their way along the Marula crest, with a beautiful sunrise in the background. I noticed that tracker Joy Mathebula had stopped watching the giraffe and was suddenly listening intently. He had heard a noise somewhere in the distance but he wasn’t quite what it was. Curious, we decided to drive to where we thought the noise was coming from. At that moment we heard a squeal. We both looked at each other and said, “Wild dogs!” I put my foot down on the accelerator…
It was only a few minutes later that suddenly, 50 meters to the right of my vehicle, a wild dog ran past. I shifted into 2nd gear to keep up with him and he led us straight to a dead impala that was 60 percent finished. Next we saw a Hyena coming towards us as well. The wild dog and hyena started to fight over the kill. In a moment a second wild dog arrived and not long after that, a second hyena too. The battle ensued between the two species, each animal desperate for the remains of the carcass:
The Hyenas managed to dominate and keep the kill. This was until another five wild dogs arrived and the real battle began. We had both species running in circles around the Land Rover, with me and my guests not knowing which way to look. The noise was unbelievably loud and aggressive. The full pack of wild dogs won, chasing the hyenas off, and they finished what remained of the impala, leaving only the head.
The pack moved off, probably in pursuit of more prey, as some of them were still hungry. The stubborn and persistent hyenas stuck around and eventually we watched as they finished any scraps that had been left behind.
It took me quite a while to start the vehicle again; I sat speechless for quite awhile. I looked back at my guests and rather enjoyed the looks of disbelief on all of their faces.
We had been in the middle of a clash between two of Africa fiercest predators and had seen just how aggressive both can be when food is at stake!