A Ranger’s Worst and Best Sighting Ever: Amazing Fight Between Lion and Wild Dog

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.

Lioness hunting
Hunting lioness. Photo by JP Joubert

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.”

Wild dog hunting
A pack of wild dogs arrive on the scene. Photo by JP Joubert

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.

Lions chase wild dogs
One lioness began sprinting after the dogs, who were now crossing the sand river on their way to the adjacent property. Photo by Roan Ravenhill
Lions chase wild dogs
The dogs were oblivious to the approaching danger until it was too late. The lioness was on top of a male, and then chaos ensued. Photo by Roan Ravenhill
Lions chase wild dogs
Photo by Roan Ravenhill
Lions chase wild dogs
Photo by Roan Ravenhill
Lions chase wild dogs
Photo by Roan Ravenhill
Lions chase wild dogs
Two bigger males arrived on the scene and also went in for the kill. The wild dog had no chance against the onslaught. Photo by JP Joubert
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

Lions chase wild dogs

“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.”

Lions chase wild dogs
The wild dog lies lifeless on the sand. Photo by JP Joubert.

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…”

Wild dog puppy
A puppy emerges from the den site. The next generation of dogs to take over the lead from the deceased alpha male. Photo by Brendan Streak

Human Journey


Meet the Author
Paul Steyn is a widely-published multi-media content producer from South Africa, and regular contributor to National Geographic News and blogs. Having guided throughout Africa for some years, he went on to edit a prominent travel and wildlife magazine, and now focuses on nature storytelling in all its forms. In 2013, he joined a team of researchers and Bayei on a 250km transect of the Okavango Delta on traditional mokoros. In 2016, he accompanied the Great Elephant Census team in Tanzania and broke the groundbreaking results on National Geographic News . Contact: paul@paulsteyn.com Follow Paul on Twitter or Instagram