Curiosity – close encounter

Sabi Sand | October 2019

Children are born innately curious but when life in the wild African bush is a day-to-day struggle for survival curiosity could very well kill the cat, or dog in this case.

For a group of wild dog pups this valuable life lesson was learnt very quickly, and thankfully without harm. We arrived at a sighting to see a group of wild dog adults and pups lying in the shade.

About 100 meters away was a breeding herd of elephants feeding in the clearings, just casually going about their day – pulling some grass here, uprooting a tree there, all the while oblivious to the presence of the second most endangered carnivore species in Africa. Now intrigued by these rather odd gentle looking giants, the pups all got up and decided they wanted a closer look. For anyone that knows the bush, elephants are not to be taken lightly, least of all a breeding herd where babies are present. Startled by these mini-animals approaching them, the elephants flared their ears, began trumpeting and started chasing down the pups. Frightened for their dear lives the pups bolted towards the thickets. Hearing this commotion, the adult wild dogs themselves got up and began to run towards the herd in their own attempt to ward off the danger.

An adult male came to the rescue of a pup and tried to attract the attention of the elephant cow to no avail and all adults and pups were sent scrabbling to the safety of their den-site a couple of hundred metres away. That was a valuable lesson learnt for the pups not to mess with Africa’s largest land mammals.