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Watching Wild Dogs killing a wildebeest

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I just came back from my trip to Tanzania yesterday, and I just wanted to share this experience before I go write my whole trip report… .

Long before I went to Tanzania and on safari, I knew that there were regular sightings of a pack of wild dogs around the Suyan campsite near Piyaya in the Gol Mountains. Since I would be going there I was quite excited about this, but I didn´t dare to expect to really see them over there.
We arrived around 15:30 in the camp, and we quite tired because we had been driving since 6:00 that morning. (we did an early gamedrive in Ndutu, before going to Suyan)
So all tired and dusty, we figured we would just take a shower and go relax and skip the afternoon gamedrive. After we showered we went to the dining tent to take a drink and sit just to relax from the view. Just after a few minutes we started getting a little bit nervous, just thinking about the fact that we were actually skipping a chance of seeing the dogs. So we decided to ask if we could still go on a drive after all. It was almost 17:00 and the two open vehicles of the camp and the guides had already left. But they arranged that one car would stop at the current location and wait for us, so our guide could bring us there with our own vehicle. So a bit while later we joined the open vehicle, standing on a hill overlooking quite some wildebeests, Thomson gazelles and zebra’s. The vehicle was watching 2 cheetahs to see if they would become active or not. So we joined the group, enjoyed a nice glass of wine while watching the cheetahs. The other guests in the car had seen the pack of dogs make a kill the day before so I got even more excited.

Slowly we could notice all the animals getting a bit nervous, as the sun was coming down. They were starting to make more noise, and from time to time some wildebeests just started running in all kinds of directions. This went on for some time and we knew something was bound to happen. Than all of a sudden someone spotted movement on the hill in front of us, and when we all looked we could just see ALL the animals on that hill running in a big cloud of dust. Just behind it we could distinguish 7 dots. The dogs!
Ethan (camp manager and excellent guide and driver of Suyan) told us to hold on and floored the gass pedal to drive us to the action. We chased the dogs and soon we were catching up on the laggards; the first wild dogs I had seen!
It quickly was evident which wildebeest they were aiming at, and we could see the wildebeest giving the dogs quite a good challenge. It managed to kick the dogs of a few time, but we all knew this would be a win for the dogs. When the wildebeest stopped running, and was fighting of the dogs standing, we were just a few meters away. I must admit, that I thought it was heartbreaking to see the wildebeest fighting for his life, and the dogs attacking it and already taking flesh from the legs. I was taking pictures as a madman, with the tears standing in my eyes.
One dog had the wildebeest by the nose, while others were on its neck and back legs. Together they brought the wildebeest down, and started ripping it apart. They ate fast and a lot, and after a while, the alpha female suddenly walked away; she was going back to the pups. We decided to follow here, to watch the pups. As soon as she was in sight, the pups ran enthousiastic towards her, and started begging for food. She regurated some, and then walked on to greet another grown up who stayed behind because of a leg injury (she would join the hunt the next day). She also regurated some food for the injured dog, and then went back to the pups. Not so long after that, the whole hill was in panic again; the 6 dogs were returning. All animals were fleeing again, but they went straight to the pups.
While watching them coming back, we also could see a hyena sitting in a ditch, not so far from the pups. Amazed by the fact that the hyena was staying there, we waited for one of the dogs to spot the hyena. That didn’t take so long, as soon as one dog spotted her, they all went for the hyena, pups included. They chased it away and the hyena crawled into another ditch, where she could defend herself better. They let her be, but left her limping away.

This was definitely the highlight of my trip; the mixture of emotions running through your body is hardly describable;
The tension of the animals getting nervous and the waiting, the rush of racing down the hill towards the action, the excitement of the knowledge that I would be seeing wild dogs, the sight of the wild dogs, and then the emotion of watching an animal desperately fighting for its life… pfew!

I managed to take some good pictures of all of this. I did leave out the really disgusting ones, but beware of some rough pictures ;)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nikao/sets/72157594525161323/

I will write about the next day, on which we saw the pack again, another time 

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