The next story and amazing sighting I am going to share with you, is one that will get your emotions running at full tilt, and probably wont be for the faint hearted !
Just to give you an idea, I spend about 8 hours every day out here in Madikwe’s savannas, and to see a real time hunt from start to finish is something that happens very little, and I am lucky if I manage to see just one such a sighting a year . Yes… 1 in a year doing 8 hours everyday !!
So it has a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time, and a bucket full of luck…. Well almost. We as professional guides, do from time to time create our own luck sometimes as happened one beautiful morning at Tlou Dam in the Madikwe Game Reserve.
The sun was just rising, and the dew on the grass was glistening with golden color and the melodious chirping of the birds all around us created a scene of peace and tranquility.
Well, our heaven on earth moment was abruptly interrupted when a herd of wildebeest came screaming out of the bush at full pace with a pack of 19 African Wild Dogs hot on their heels !!
The pack had managed to separate a female wildebeest and its calf while some of the other pack members split off to chase the rest of the herd away. The mother and calf were running straight at us, and the cameras were going wild frame by frame, and this is when I soon realized they were going to chase them into the water as they have done so successfully in the past.
First it was the calf…. running in front of its mother, then the snapping jaws of the most efficient predator on planet earth all splashing into the muddy dam at a serious pace. Once the wildebeest had hit the mud, it instantly slowed them down, as their hooves just could not get any traction to move forward, at this time it was the beginning of the end as the razor sharp teeth of the Wild Dogs started tearing into the flesh of both victims !
The calf was left to the sub adults in the pack while the more experienced and lead hunters went after the mother wildebeest and the struggle then began….
Before you read any further, I would just like to explain to you the modus opperandi of the dogs when they hunt. Wild Dogs do not stalk their prey as lions or say leopards would, they briskly move through an area moving into the wind, and when they smell or hear or see any prey item, they simply give chase, and they chase until the prey is exhausted, or use well know obstacles such as waterholes or fences to corner their prey. Once they have pinned the animal down, they will just start tearing into the flesh, usually from the inside of the legs where it is very soft, and soon the prey loses its vital organs or bleeds to death very quickly. Lions would suffocate their prey for 20 minutes before they will open the carcass at their own time.
Anyway, what happens next is just that… the tearing open of the victims and the accompanying bellowing of the calf and mother mixed in with the high pitch giggling sounds of the excited dogs created a very moody atmosphere, as some of the guests witnessing this started closing eyes and ears, and even looking in other directions !
It took some 10 minutes for the calf to succumb to the razor sharp teeth, and a further 10 minutes for the mother wildebeest to die due to shock and loss of blood. Once the killing had been done, a feasting frenzy had begun, and the dogs were filling their bellies in no time, and had only taken them 10 minutes to reduce the calf to a few bones and skin. This is efficiency at its best !!
This was a big prize for such a large pack of wild dogs, as they require a large amount of energy to chase their prey, so killing a large wildebeest and calf would do them good for the next day or so.
So…. What an incredible sighting, and if your are a guest on my vehicle in the future, and find yourself in such a lucky position, just enjoy the moment, and see it for what it is…….. 100% raw nature !!
After all, isn’t that what we all want to see and experience when we are in the great savannas of Africa?
So, until the next awesome sighting,
I wish you all happy safaring…..