African wild dogs are ruthless hunters - a pack will have devoured half its prey before it is dead. At the core of their hunting is a social dynamic, a sensitivity and a mastery of chase that few other creatures display. I followed this pack of 18 dogs for two days in Zimanga Game Reserve, Kwazulu Natal. In that time they killed five warthog - three of them in one morning.
On the second morning they made an attempt on a wildebeest calf. The wildebeest adults formed a protective circle around the calf, fending off the dogs with hoof and horn. A dangerous dance ensued, the choreographer of which was the alpha dog. He mustered his troops with chirps and squeaks, setting the young dogs onto any wildebeest that charged, commanding the adult dogs to harry the gaps that opened in the protective circle. It was masterful. The dance went on for a good 15 minutes and as impressive as the alpha dog was in his command, the wildebeest were vigilant. The dogs retired to rest so they could chase other quarry.
Later that morning they came across a warthog hole and tormented the occupant until it fled in terror. The dogs gave chase. Somehow the warthog made it to another hole, but it was a wider than the last and the dogs could reach the warthog with their fangs. Inch by painful inch they dragged the warthog out by its snout until every dog had a purchase on its flesh. It’s squeals pierced the air, it’s eyes were wide with terror. Nature is wonderful in its tutelage, but it’s hard to watch an animal being eaten alive.