A hunt is something rare to witness even if you often are out in the wild.
Therefore it was a real treat when we got to witness a hunt on the last evening in Mana Pools in October this year. The previous year we found Painted Dog tracks at times, but didn’t find either of the three packs that normally are in the National Park. I think the reason was mainly due to the time of the year than anything else.
This time we found the big pack resting in the shade close to two water sources. We did the same ritual as the last time and tried to find a good spot from which to take photos. We wanted to witness and photo the moment when the dogs get up and greet before heading out to hunt, but also hopefully watch them coming down to drink.
This time the pack greeted in front of us. We had picked a good spot even if we had some scrub in the way.
They settled down shortly before they went down to drink at the bigger water source of the two. Painted Dogs are skittish around water and don’t drink often as they normally get the required liquid from their prey. It was interesting to witness their behavior around water. The pups where playing while some of the adults sneaked down to drink. They were really cautious around water trying to keep an eye out for the danger that lurks beneath the surface.
Keeping up with the pack
They stayed at the water source for some time which meant we also headed in that direction. Luckily for us the water was in the same direction in which our Land Rover Defender were parked. This was crucial as it didn’t take long before the dogs decided to head out to hunt. They continued in the same direction and therefore we needed to reach our Landrover to be able to keep up. They still hadn’t gathered pace so we could stop once in a while to take photos as we were walking parallel to the dogs.
We soon understood what they had their eyes set on as Chacma Baboons started to make alarm calls. A Chacma baboon is a fearsome enemy, but it seems like this pack of Painted dogs have made them their specialty.
It didn’t take long before the dogs split the Baboon troop in two groups.
As soon as the closest group of Baboons felt they where out of danger they started to decend from the trees. We think they felt an urge to help the main group that the dogs still chased. Not the wisest move as the complete pack of dogs now turned their attention back to this group. The scence turned chaotic and one could see dogs jumping trying to snatch the less agile adults before they climbed the trees again.
Still the game plan worked for the dogs as they caught a young Chacma baboon and killed it quickly. It ended up as food for the pups and we got to witness this from first row. We were the first vehicle at the sighting thanks to our guide Fisher.
It were spectacular to witness the hunt and the kill up close. We were just a few meters from the pack on foot when the pups ate. One felt the tension and that the pack would continue to look for prey. Sadly we couldn’t follow them on their next hunt as the light was fading.
There are some gruesome pictures in the gallery, but that is the nature of a successful hunt.
I really find the Painted dogs to be the most interesting predator in Africa with their social behavior and hunting skill.
Please enjoy the gallery.