Written by: Christa Niederer
As I crossed the Olifants River, a wild dog bounding across the river caught my eye. An unusual sighting, it immediately raised my adrenaline level. Where was it heading to? Was it alone?
I looked ahead and spotted two wild dogs approaching from the road towards the bridge. Their red faces and paws told me that this pack had been feeding after a successful hunt. Looking back, I saw the dog that had just crossed the river feeding on an impala carcass on the river bank.
The two dogs on the road were soon joined by another two dogs and they playfully greeted each other. However, they appeared to be strangely restless after the greeting ceremony and on reaching the bridge, they descended into the river-bed.
Two of the dogs disappeared out of sight underneath the bridge. When they reappeared on the other side, they were dragging an impala carcass along the sandbank. They had killed a second impala and were nervously swallowing big chunks of meat while continuing to drag the carcass higher up the sandbank.
The other three dogs were on high alert. I followed their gaze to a pair of glinting yellow eyes just below the water surface surrounding the sandbank.
A big fat crocodile had been lurking below water level with just its eyes protruding from the water and attentively following the action on the sand bank.
With the dogs moving the carcass, the crocodile moved closer and suddenly lunged onto the sandbank with surprising speed. The dogs had all gathered around the slain impala and apprehensively stood back. The crocodile and dogs eyed each other for a few seconds.
The inevitable happened as the croc grabbed the carcass, waddling back to the water and sliding into it with the prize while the dogs wistfully watched their breakfast disappearing.
After this disappointment the dogs trotted towards the banks of the river, where the water was a bit shallower.
They decided to relax in one of the pools after the stress of hunting, eating and having their prey stolen by the crocodile.
All was not lost, however, as they still had the other – although fairly stripped – impala carcass lying higher up on Olifants river bank. After their “wellness experience”, the dogs went to nibble on that carcass before disappearing into the shade between the high trees lining the river.
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