We found these notes from a Kruger National Park guide both moving and insightful. The ‘king of the jungle’ is indeed a fearsome despot.
‘Near Skukuza, we came across a group of African wild dogs – three adults and 10 puppies aged about three months. As we watched them, the adults started behaving very nervously and we looked across to see a young male lion with the body of a young dog in his mouth. He held the limp carcass for a few seconds, then dropped it on the ground and went looking for more pups to finish off. The youngsters were trying to hide and we could hear them scream. One even took shelter in a sort of tube, just two metres away from my car. The lion moved in our direction but, fortunately, couldn’t reach more dogs to kill and after a while he moved off. One of the adult dogs came back to check out the dead puppy.
It was one of nature’s dramas that one hears about but rarely witnesses. In spite of the bad light I managed to capture the lion as he walked through the bush with the pup he just killed. Some minutes later we spoke to people who worked for the Endangered Wildlife Trust and they told us that the number of wild dogs in Kruger is declining rapidly. The killing of just one of these beautiful predators is a great loss for the entire population. These fantastic creatures are so vulnerable and we all have to do our best to protect them as best we can.’