This was an emotional moment for game ranger Jaques-Pierre Joubert, who captured a remarkable set of photos along with colleague Roan Ravenhill in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa.
“As guides we are often asked about our best sighting ever,” says JP. “This was comprehensively the best and worst sighting of my guiding career.”
JP and his tracker Eckson were on a normal drive through the bush near Kirkman’s Kamp when they spotted a pride of lions hunting on the bank of the river.
The lions seemed to be loosing interest in the hunt, until one female sprung up, looking attentive. She had spotted something approaching and JP soon realised that a pack of wild dogs had swiftly moved into the area.
“It was a pack that we know well and suspect have a den on the property,” recalled JP. “All five of the adults were trotting next to the water channel toward the lions.”
Lions and wild dogs are eternal enemies because they compete for similar food species when hunting, so it was not long before the lioness was running off after the unsuspecting pack.The lions dragged the dog onto the sand. The poor dog gave one last fighting yelp before the male delivered a deadly blow. Photo by JP Joubert
“Observers were crying at the sight as the severity of the attack hit home. Distant barks from bewildered members of the pack could still be heard over the sound of hearts thumping in chests.”
The dog that was killed by the lions was identified as the alpha male of a pack.
A few days later, JP and other rangers found the den site that they had suspected was on the property. To their delight, out crawled a litter of puppies when the rest of the pack returned from hunting.
“How will the dynamics of the pack now change with the alpha male gone? Would they move den sites? Which male dog will take over the ‘alpha’ position? These are all questions that will be answered in the coming weeks as we watch this pack recover from this horrible loss…”