May – Sep is the most common time of year to spot rare African wild dogs trotting through Greater Kruger. These nomadic wanderers cover a wide range and rarely remain sedentary in an area, unless its their denning period. Their denning period is generally between May – Sep, a period of time that delivers numerous sightings of wild dogs engaging in behaviour typical of their species. The pack is governed by the alpha male and female, a breeding pair that demands help from the pack to guard and raise their young. This is called co-operative breeding. It is during this time of year that guides and guests report fairly consistent sightings of wild dogs. From ceremonious greeting rituals, to take downs of epic proportions and observing cantering through the wild; the African wild dog sightings certainly vary.
The team at Chacma Bush Camp have been rewarded with quite a few sightings of a pack of wild dogs, but sightings have dwindled over the past few months. The most recent sighting, however, completely astounding both guests and guides. Dogs favour diurnal hunting methods and often seek out potential prey in the mornings and evenings when its cooler. They hunt using a method called coarsing, which means they identify, target and chase prey until the point of exhaustion. Mild trots turn into canters – they truly are the marathon runners of the wild ! It’s not uncommon to see this textbook behaviour in action, but what is uncommon is to see a WILD DOG SWIMMING AFTER ITS PREY.
Here is Cherie Bredenkamp’s account of the events, complete with video and images.
This sighting had many events leading up to it. If we’d taken a different route we would not have been able to witness this amazing hunt.
We were standing next to a tower of giraffe when we heard some baboons alarm calling in the distance. So we automatically thought it could be a lion, leopard or any other predator.
But we also had the choice of a buffalo sighting which was much closer. Therefore we had a decision to make.
We decided on the buffalo first as it was closer and then we would follow up on the alarm calls.
As we were enjoying the buffalo sighting there was another strange sound in the background not too far away from the vehicle. One of the guests quickly asked Ad what that could be. And with no hesitation Ad said “something is dying”.
We left the buffalo and drove off. About 50m away a guest yelled “Wild dogs!” First I thought it was impossible, as we have not seen any wild dogs for a couple of months. But luckily for us it was a pack of three wild dogs busy hunting a young female kudu.
This is a new pack to the area. We have never seen them before.
The kudu launched into the small dam while the wild dogs kept circling her. At last a brave wild dog dove into the dam and started swimming towards the kudu, pushing it into the direction of the other two.
These sightings are quite rare and magnificent to experience but at the same time it can be cruel and insensitive. Therefore our guide Ad asked all the guests if they are willing to stay and witness what was about to happen.
All the guests were quite keen as they understood the upcoming events.
Once the wild dogs got a hold of the kudu it was all down hill from there for the kudu. The wild dogs dragged her out to the side and started feasting.
There was also a small fight amongst the three wild dogs to establish a pecking order.