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Africa Geographic
Wildlife . People . Travel
Klaserie River Sands

African wild dogs are big predators of impala in most areas where the ranges of the two species overlap.  Whilst the average impala will feed a small pack of dogs for a day, larger packs need more food.  They can try to kill more impala, and this happens quite frequently with successful packs.  They can also switch to larger prey animals like kudu.

The Linyanti dog pack that run in the area around Dumatau and Savuti camps practice both strategies, though not always with success.  With the pack currently consisting of 11 adults, the addition of 9 healthy pups that were born in late May has meant that the dog’s daily food requirements have increased radically.
On a morning game drive out of Dumatau camp we watched a hunt in progress.  As happens often, the adults had set off in a loose formation combing through the woodland fringing the Linyanti River.  Upon sighting a herd of impala, they accelerated into action.  Within moments, we had lost sight of most of the dogs.  One adult dog stayed behind, guarding the nine pups as they waited for the hunters to return.
Suddenly we noticed that one dog had located a small group of kudu, and was pursuing them at pace.  The dog, a male, had managed to home in on a single female kudu, and was chasing the fleeing antelope hard, gaining ground all the time.  As we watched, the wild dog closed right up on the kudu.  The kudu ended up running right along the rivers edge.  Both animals were now coming towards us at pace, and as we watched the wild dog increased its stride, overtaking the kudu, and moving towards the region around its neck.  At that moment the kudu changed direction suddenly, and crashed into the water.  The wild dog gave up the chase, and sat down to wait.  The Linyanti River is home to large crocodiles and cautious wild dogs here have learned not to enter the water.
The unfortunate wild dog was joined by the pups, and their babysitter, but none of the dogs made any move to go into the water.  The kudu stood in a small clump of reeds, just a few metres inside the river.  After about twenty minutes the dogs gave up and moved off in search of the rest of the pack.  The kudu waited at least that long again before dashing off to safety.
Although wild dogs can easily kill impala on their own, a struggle with a fully-grown female kudu could be a bit risky for a single dog.  Had the rest of the pack been on hand for the chase, things might have turned out differently.  On several other occasions the wild dogs have managed to kill female kudu quite easily.
In the end the Linyanti pack went hungry for that day, but next morning they got two impalas at the same time!

Ndumu River Lodge
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I am a South African who grew up in the former Transkei, (now the Eastern Cape) and I spent much of my time along the Wild Coast. For over ten years I have been working as a guide in northern Botswana, for a company called Wilderness Safaris. I spend many days of each year leading photographic safari trips with small groups of people through our fixed camps in the Kalahari, Okavango, Linyanti and Savuti regions, mostly. My special interests are birds, lions and photography, in no special order. When I am not guiding in the field, I take part in some of our companies environmental projects. Botswana is a country with a solid conservation ethic, and I am fortunate to be able to share some of what I do and see by means of my writing and my images. Visit my photography page