A pack of wild dogs were found in the morning, close to a pan. Hoping that they were still there resting while it was still hot, we set out that afternoon and headed straight for the pan. Luckily for us they were still there, and we were in for a fantastic sighting! At first the pack was lying about, not doing much. We waited, hoping for them to get up. We didn’t know at the time that that patience was going to pay off more than we could ever have imagined.
What followed was much time spent watching the wild dogs playing in the pan, with water splashing everywhere, bonding amongst the pack and some incredible sounds as they all greeted one another. They then set off on to hunt, their stomachs clearly empty. Tracker Ray Mabilane, our guests and I were already grinning from ear to ear after watching their antics. I decided in that moment that it was one of my favourite sightings of wild dog… but we hadn’t seen anything yet!
A couple of hundred meters had been covered and after missing a scrub hare and with nightfall slowing creeping in, we thought the chances of any more hunting action were slim to none. A few minutes later though, the dogs spotted a herd of wildebeest and immediately changed course towards them. I still get goosebumps at the thought of what the next hour entailed.
Wildebeest mothers protect their calves against wild dogs by forming a wall between them and the pack. The crazy noises that echoed from crest to crest of Londolozi could be heard from miles away. Stalemate. Neither predator nor prey was going to give up the fight in the wild tonight.
Then, out of nowhere two zebra came charging in chasing some of the wild dogs away. They continued to help the wildebeest and eventually after night had fallen and the wild dogs had slowly given up, with wildebeest still huddled in an unbreakable wall, everything calmed down. The wild dogs were going to have to look for food elsewhere.
It was a tough ordeal to watch but it showed the rawness of nature at its finest. We all went to bed, struggling to fall asleep as the unknown kept us awake. What had happened in the darkness of the night?
The next morning, we set out on drive and about 400 meters from where we had seen this incredible sighting, we saw five wildebeest and two calves running across the airstrip. Now, there is no guarantee that it was that same herd but the composition was identical from what we could tell, and it was enough to give us peace of mind that they had all survived.
Watching a predator hunt is one of the most thrilling experiences in the bush but it can also provide you with a spectrum of conflicting emotions. Excitement, sorrow, joy, yet most of all grateful to have been a part of this wilderness in its truest form. All of which we felt that day and I am sure we will continue to do so as the bush just keeps providing such amazing spectacles!