Upon our arrival in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, we heard that a pack of wild dogs had been found earlier that morning. So we headed off towards the Gomoti River to see if we could pick up any signs of the dogs. However, we had not expected to witness what we did that afternoon.
We found the dogs scattered in the shade of a large stand of trees. Minutes after arriving some impala ran past, which got the attention of the wild dogs, but nothing too exciting happened as it was mid-afternoon and too hot.
Across the flood plain we saw a small group of four or five adult wildebeest, with two very young calves. The direction that the wildebeest were heading would take them past the dogs by about 200 yards. At first the wild dogs paid little attention to them, and the wildebeest crossed the floodplain and seemed to have left the area.
As the afternoon cooled, the dogs excitedly greeted one another in their usual way and then headed towards the Gomoti River, where several herds of red lechwe grazed. Closing the gap, the dogs gave chase on the lechwe along the bank, in the opposite direction of the small group of wildebeest that stood cornered on a small tongue of land. Having no luck with the lechwe, the dogs circled back, dropping their ears and walking purposely towards the wildebeest.
A wild dog’s tactic when hunting large prey is to intimidate them into running. This is how they separate the calves from the adults, and the outcome is almost always guaranteed to be in the dogs’ favour. This they did, along with using their high-pitched calls and intense pursuit tactics, in which they are so specialised. Their teamwork paid off, breaking the rank of the wildebeest, which gave the dogs the gap that they needed to get to the calves.
In the chaos that ensued over the next 10 minutes or so, the dogs pulled down both calves, only to be repelled time and again by the adult wildebeest. At one stage, in their desperate attempt to save their calves, the mothers returned and charged the dogs, kicking and trying their best to horn the nearest of the predators, but they were just no match for this seasoned pack of dogs, which had skilfully removed both calves from the adults right in front of us.
In a desperate attempt to save her young calf the mother wildebeest accidentally tossed it into the air while trying to horn one of the dogs. The calf in picture had survived repeated attempts by the dogs due to the bravery of the adult wildebeest, unfortunately for this calf, shortly after it hit the ground the dogs won the battle.
At one stage the dogs grouped together, sounding their low-pitched alarm call while staring towards the bank of the river. This alarm call also attracts other predators, and sure enough, a crocodile emerged shortly afterwards with the hope of scavenging the dogs’ kill. But there were just too many dogs and this crocodile wasn’t large or confident enough to cross the open grassland to steal their kill, so it instead sat motionless, encircled by the dogs.
Just as we thought it was over, the adult wildebeest returned to charge at the dogs. But this was almost its undoing, as the entire pack chased and cornered the wildebeest in a shallow side channel of the river. The wildebeest grouped side by side and repelled the dogs’ attacks. At this point, we expected one of the many large crocodiles to appear and end it all, but fortunately for the wildebeest this didn’t happen. However, in the midst of all the chaos, we looked back and saw one of the largest crocodiles that I’ve ever seen, approaching the kill site across the short grass plains.
The wild dogs immediately headed over to harass the crocodile, but the reptile returned to the river. This was a good reminder, however, that crocodiles are always ready to take advantage of any situation. I guess that’s why they have been around for millions of years; unchanged and perfectly designed.
It is never nice to see killing animals, especially when it comes to young animals. But the dogs had their pups to feed. The wildebeest will drop calves again next year at the same time and hopefully. They won’t make the same mistake of getting cornered by a river when there are wild dogs around. This was one of those sightings that leaves you drained and unsure of how to feel, as we had seen two young wildebeest killed in front of us. The mother’s obvious stress, anger and bravery in returning time and again, even after the calves were dead, risking her life and those of the rest of the small herd, was an emotional scene.
We left the scene as it got dark, with the three wildebeest still knee-deep in the water. The dogs were appearing to lose interest and started moving from the scene, hopefully leaving the surviving wildebeest to go on their way.
You can see video about Wildebeest:
Brave Impala vs Hyena & Wild Dog Battle…Impala can win ??See another video: https://goo.gl/r8imzb
Posted by Wild Animal World on Thursday, December 28, 2017