The Wildest of Wild Dogs

We recently ran a post on one of the best offerings in the Zambezi River Valley; Zambezi Grande on the Zambian side. This luxury lodge provides amazing access to the Lower Zambezi National Park and its incredible wildlife.

Safari Guide Robbie Ball was recently on a trip to Zambezi Grande, and tells us here of one of the wildest things he’s ever seen in the bush:

We’d heard stories of the huge pack of African Wild Dogs that were resident in the Lower Zambezi Park and asked our guide if we could try and find them one morning.

Zambezi Grande is literally on the water’s edge, and water activities form a huge part of the offering here, so in true Zambezi River style, we set off downstream before dawn in one of the lodge’s boats whilst our ranger drove the vehicle round to meet us in the area the dogs had been seen the day before.
We enjoyed a spectacular sunrise from the boat, passing fish eagles, pods of hippos and elephants ambling along the bank.

It was about a 45 minute boat ride to where we disembarked, and shortly after linking up with the vehicle, we were guided to where the pack of wild dogs were sleeping by the tell-tale signs of vultures in the trees nearby.

The pack numbered 46 at the time, which must surely make them one of the largest packs in Africa!

After sitting with them for 30 minutes or so, we noticed a large dust cloud billowing up from the winterthorn forest nearby, which signalled the approach of a herd of buffalo. We could hear their bellowing from a long way off, which meant the dogs could hear them too, but they pack stayed snoozing.

The buffalo came into view and still the dogs did nothing, when suddenly, with the herd only about 200 metres away, the dogs leapt up and raced towards them. There had been no signal that we could see, not greeting ritual that usually precedes a hunt, no sign whatsoever; they were just up and racing in as a pack.

We tried to keep up with them but the bush was too thick where they led us and the herd had fled to. By the time we caught up a few minutes later the pack had already grabbed hold of a buffalo cow and were in the process of bringing her down.

The rest of the herd was still bellowing nearby but they didn’t come to the aid of the old female.
Wild dog kills tend to be quite gory, but are usually mercifully quick when they involve small game. With a large buffalo cow, despite the number of dogs involved, things were drawn out and difficult to watch.

Eventually the buffalo cow had died from a combination of shock and bloodloss, and whilst the pack gorged themselves, one of the adults trotted back to where they had been resting, to call the pups – who don’t get involved in the hunt – to come and feed.

We were there for maybe an hour and a half, and it was certainly one of the craziest wildlife sightings I will probably ever have in my lifetime!

Visit our Facebook or instagram pages (@iconicafrica) to see some video footage of this sighting…

The Zambezi Grande offers fantastic access – both by river and land – to the wildlife of the Zambezi Valley and Lower Zambezi National Park. Although sightings like the one Robbie witnessed are certainly not the norm, this particular pack has become renowned for taking down adult buffalo.

If a wildlife adventure like this is something you would be interested in, get in touch through


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