Elephant Plains: Wild Dogs vs Hyena for a Kill

Brendon reports from Elephant Plains:
After arrival, lunch and our briefing we clambered onto the vehicles, eager for our first game drive.

We quickly picked up some female leopard tracks, and knowing that Salayexe is in the area we followed these. Vain hope. Although there is plenty of general game, we were keen to photograph predators.

A pack of Wild Dogs have established a den not far away, and we thought it would be a fine idea to check the spot. Again, nothing. 

But as we started to drive away from the den there came a dog. She ran directly towards us, with our cameras clicking madly. Then she stopped right next to us to examine us – and giving us plenty of time to photograph her. When done, she ran off into the bush, and as she disappeared, twelve other dogs popped out of the bush.

                          Dogs 3S8662-1

We followed the dogs as they ran, luckily for us they chose mostly open spaces to sprint through. Suddenly they veered off and before we could catch up we heard the unmistakable sounds of a kill, but couldn’t identify what it was.

When we caught up, there was very little left of a female bushbuck. With twelve hungry dogs, the frenzied eating lasted just a few more minutes, but we had plenty of action shots as the frantic dogs grabbed and pulled and played tog-of-war with every piece.

Suddenly we saw a newcomer enter the scene. A hyena, hearing the fracas, arrived to investigate and possibly to try and grab a meal. But one hyena is no match for twelve snarling dogs, intent on protecting the last sinew of their kill. The snarls were ferocious, and just as we thought that the dogs would attack, the hyena realised that it was totally outnumbered, and wisely retreated, with the dogs yipping behind the retreating figure for a few meters.

Still shaking from all that adrenalin, we decided that our best choice now was to enjoy our sundowners.

After sundowners, and calming down somewhat, we were in for another wonderful encounter.

Anderson is a large, handsome male leopard that lives in the area, but tends to keep very much to himself. So, when we spotted him strolling along, we were delighted to follow him, capturing a number of spotlit images.

                                                                      Leopard Wim van den Heever-039-37

The he decided to lie down – more photos – until he yawned and went to sleep.

After that amazing start to our safari, everyone is very excited as we gather in the boma for our starlit dinner, listening to the sounds of the bush, savouring each moment …