When he witnessed the standoff, Mr. Brent Leo-Smith was on a safari in the Sabi Sands, the northeast of South Africa. The tour guide follows the wild dogs from behind in a vehicle.
When the dogs approach a path, elephants emerge from the adjacent bushes. The nine dogs are outnumbered by their huge opponents, who begin roaring and ꜰʀɪɢʜᴛᴇɴɪɴɢ them. The dogs flee one by one as the elephants gather and stand their ground.
Even the young calf ᴄʜᴀʀɢᴇs with the elephants, forming a protective circle around the more ᴠᴜʟɴᴇʀᴀʙʟᴇ creature. Elephants are ᴛᴇʀʀɪꜰɪᴇᴅ of ᴘʀᴇᴅᴀᴛᴏʀs, and they were not delighted about the presence of wild dogs in their territory.
According to the tour guide, dogs hunt in packs, but they are unlikely to ᴋɪʟʟ elephants. Mr. Leo-Smith said: “Wild dogs don’t show any actual potential ᴛʜʀᴇᴀᴛ to the elephants. I’ve never heard of a wild dog ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋɪɴɢ a baby elephant. But elephants react negatively to any ᴘʀᴇᴅᴀᴛᴏʀ.”
Bᴀᴛᴛʟᴇs between elephants and wild dogs are not uncommon. A recent trip that Atkinson made to Zimanga nature reserve in northern Kwazulu-Natal.
Early in the morning, they had managed to track down the local pack of African wild dogs. There were four dogs in the pack, and they had just finished off feeding on a nyala antelope that they had ᴋɪʟʟᴇᴅ. The dogs were alternating between some social bonding and play when we found them. They soon settled down to rest, with one dog taking up a position on top of a low termite mound.
The resting dogs lifted a head now and again to keep a lookout for any possible ᴛʜʀᴇᴀᴛs or opportunities. A bull elephant was feeding on some acacia trees nearby. It looked as if he would pass by the dogs and their ᴋɪʟʟ, but as he came alongside, he raised his trunk to the air and came to a stop. He had obviously smelled something, perhaps the dogs themselves or the ᴄᴀʀᴄᴀss of the nyala. He turned in the direction of where the dogs were lying, and began to walk faster. Their guide, Brendon Jennings, immediately backed the vehicle out of the elephants path, and they got they camera’s ready.
Using his powerful sense of smell, the elephant made his way unerringly towards the nearest dog. The wild dog waited until the elephant was quite close before jumping up and running off. In a kind of disdainful manner, the dog immediately lay down again. The elephant followed up. Now some of the dogs moved behind the elephant. He turned and lumbered off after them. The elephant then spent the next twenty minutes trying to move the dogs. At one point he charged a dog that was walking casually across his path, and then spun around when a second dog passed close by to him going in the opposite direction. The wild dogs were much too fast for the elephant to have any chance of catching them, but the bull was determined.
After perhaps twenty minutes of back and forth herding by the elephant, the wild dogs finally decided that enough was enough. They gathered together and left the area, to seek out a quieter resting place for the day. The elephant didn’t stay around too long, and he continued on his way, in the opposite direction that the wild dogs had gone.
Watching interaction between wild animals in their wild habitats is always fascinating. The bull elephant had no need to feel ᴛʜʀᴇᴀᴛᴇɴᴇᴅ by the wild dogs. He was much too big and powerful for the dogs to remotely consider as ᴘʀᴇʏ. Despite that, the elephant used up a good chunk of time and lots of energy on getting rid of the wild dogs. In some places, young elephants can become ᴘʀᴇʏ for spotted hyaena and lions.