It had been an exceptional 2 days as far as wild dog sightings were concerned. In fact we had seen them on virtually every drive, our first sighting of them was at the water pump, 17 wild dogs were lazing under a tree. It was fantastic to see them but they did not provide much entertainment…… Since then the sightings had become progressively better. We had them walking down the road and playing with each other; we had them moving deliberately through the bush looking for prey and we even saw them devour an impala which they managed to kill 2 meters from tent four in camp. That morning as we rolled out the camp at the crack of dawn, we were all certain we had witnessed the best of the best as far as wild dog sightings go….. we had no idea how wrong we were.
The first hour of the drive was fairly quiet. But what did we expect it to be quiet, considering a pack of 17 wild dogs were on the prowl around our concession. At the dam we did find good old harry our resident hippo. He had just returned to the water from his nights activities and was getting ready for his first nap of the day, but delighted us by giving us a few grunts and a big yawn. As we were watching him settle himself in the dam, Dave’s voice came over the radio: “Peter, Peter come in for Dave.” “Standing by”, I replied. “Hi Peter, I’ve got the dogs on western river road if you are interested.” We had seen them so much over the past few days I was worried the guests may not be interested in seeing them again, I quickly explained that Dave had found the Dogs again not too far from us, they were all excited to see them, so off we went.
As we were responding to the sighing, Dave kept us informed on the movements of the Wild Dogs. The last update we got was that they were moving up Mopane way. We eventually made it to the area and started slowly driving up the road searching for the dogs, and about half way up the road, we found them. We could not believe our eyes – there were also two spotted hyena’s lying on the road amongst the dogs.
When we first arrived it seemed peaceful, as if the Wild dogs and Hyena’s had a mutual agreement not to bother each other. Then suddenly one of the dogs got up and moved quickly up to the closest Hyena. The hyena immediately sat up and flattened its ears in a defensive posture. The Wild dog, realizing it was no match for a hyena, stopped its advance, but this was gang warfare and the hyenas were outnumbered. A second later, all the dogs were gathered around the hyena, and as he turned to defend himself against one attack, another dog would rush in and bite him from behind. The second Hyena saw what was going on and made a stealthy retreat, proving how important it is to choose your friends wisely! Slowly but surely, one by one, the wild dogs lost interest in the Hyena, and eventually he was left alone to lick his wounds. The second Hyena now suddenly made an appearance and greeted his friend.
By now, the Wild dogs had completely forgotten about the Hyenas and were making their way back down to Western river road now, playing as they went. We followed them and enjoyed their playful clowning around. As we were about to leave and carry on with our drive we noticed the Hyenas had not left and had actually been following the dogs at a distance. Wild dogs are exceptionally successful hunters, and the Hyenas must have decided that this would be their meal ticket for a while. It was an incredible sighting, one which I will never forget.