In the years that I have been in the bush and have been guiding, some sightings just tend to stick and remain fresher in my memory. This is mostly as a result of interspecies interaction. Two species that are born enemies and sightings where these animals meet, never disappoints – the African wild dog and the Spotted Hyena! With both species being successful in their own way and also relentless killers, clashes always result in some action packed stuff.
Wild dogs are one of the most successful hunters in Africa with the hyena being so versatile and will do and eat almost anything to survive. One of their many ways to find food is to follow other predators and either wait for them to leave and then eat whatever is left, in the case of a lion pride or steal kills where possible. I have seen first-hand how leopards have lost their well-deserved meals to hyenas. So as wild dogs roam through an area you will find many times some hyenas following them, opportunistic as ever.
If patient, the hyena will get some of the remaining kill or scraps, but as greed, hunger or bravery gets the better of them they might try and take the kill from the wild dogs. Normally that tends to be a bad idea as the wild dogs don’t like sharing and the result normally ends up with a hyena getting a beating. Hyenas live in clans, but tend to break up in smaller groups or on their own to forage and look for food. A solitary hyena, maybe even two doesn’t stand a chance against a pack of wild dogs. They work together like a well-oiled machine and will quickly put the hyena in their place, so to say.
In one of my more recent experiences, three hyenas where on the receiving end once again. They followed only four wild dogs, hoping for them to make a kill and then potentially get an easy meal. It didn’t work out as they were hoping and the wild dogs got fed up very quickly. Like always, they ganged up and attacked the hyenas one by one providing us with some amazing interactions.
Hyenas and wild dogs are just one of the many relationships one can find in the bush, but is definitely one of my favourites. Most people don’t appreciate the hyenas for the role they play in the bush and their looks also don’t contribute to their popularity, but they are still amazing animals. Even though the wild dogs will always be a favourite of mine, I have come to appreciate hyenas just as much and if another spectacle between these two beasts unravels in front of us, I don’t pick favourites, but enjoy every moment.