Last month was the first time that a pack of seventeen Cape hunting dogs was seen at MalaMala Game Reserve. Game records show that this is the largest pack seen running through the property in almost fifty years. The pace at which they move make them hard to follow, and once they are out of sight it is very difficult to relocate the hunting machines.
The pack has been seen twice so far in April. Both sightings produced spectacular interactions with other animals.
On the afternoon of the 6th of March, before the dogs set out for their evening hunt, the pack surrounded and harassed five rhinoceros.
The following morning a ranger came upon a hyena that seemed intent on following a scent trail. Much to the ranger’s surprise, the hyena soon stumbled upon the same pack of Cape hunting dogs which had been seen the day before. The individuals were finishing off the remains of a waterbuck. Pieces of the carcass lay strewn across the densely vegetated river bed. Only a few of the canines were still feeding.
The presence of the hyena alerted the dogs who were quick to enforce their dominance in number. After a short chase, the hyena ran into fallen debris. The scavenger reversed its rear into the debris for protection from behind, as it had already been bitten several times. This manoeuvre enabled the animal to show its sharp teeth and powerful jaws. Now cornered and with nowhere to run, the adversaries entered a stand-off which lasted for about 10 minutes. The Cape hunting dogs would not risk being crushed by the hyena’s jaws, and some seemed to be keeping it at bay allowing for the rest of the pack to consume what was left of their kill. Cape hunting dogs are very successful hunters with a kill rate around 80% per hunt. Other predators know of this skill, and are often found in the vicinity of or following the pack. It was therefore no surprise when, by midday, two lionesses of the Marthly Pride were found approaching the area of the dogs. Perhaps they could smell carrion and headed in their direction in hope of an easy meal.
Written by Matthew Nolden