African Wild Dogs and Wild Beasts: The Khoikhoi Called Them “Gnou”

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The khoikhoi called them “Gnou” after their unusual sound; the Afrikaners called them Wildebeest, or “Wild Beast,” for the menacing appearance presented by its large head, shaggy mane, pointed beard, and sharp, curved horns. They roam over much of the African grasslands, open plains and dry woodlands. Throughout Africa they battle in the game of survival; competing with lions, hyenas and of course the most explosive of all…the African Wild Dog.


A Wildebeest calf sticks close to her mother and the protection of the herd – Adam Bannister

The African Wild Dog, also called the Hunting Dog, is a vanishing species with numbers dwindling all the time. These highly social and very intelligent animals are ferocious predators and thought by many to be the most efficient and successful hunter in the bushveld. They hunt in a pack using speed and endurance to tire out and then kill their prey. Although Impala, duiker and bushbuck are usually more in their target range, in terms of size of prey, they are fully capable of killing larger animals.


Blood stained face after a successful hunt – Adam Bannister

As a Game Ranger there is nothing more exciting then a pack of Wild Dogs running though the wilderness. It tests your knowledge of the pack itself, the individuals within the pack, the characteristics of the prey, the vegetation, your knowledge of the roads together with your driving capabilities. All in all it has the ingredients for an unforgettable experience…

What is fascinating to watch is what happens when the Wild Dogs come across a herd of Wild beasts. A Wildebeest calf is well within the hunting capabilities of a sizable pack of dogs, so too is possibly a young cow; a bull on the other hand is a little tough for the Hunting Dogs. I have been lucky enough to watch the scenes unfold as the dogs try to isolate the youngsters in the herd only to be driven off by the very brave larger members. It makes for an intriguing couple of minutes.


Last year December I was treated to an amazing stand off between the same pack of Wild Dogs and a herd of Wildebeest. At first the Wild Dogs looked like they may have had the upper hand and were seen trying to separate the youngsters from the herd, driving the male off. – Adam Bannister


Both the Wild Dogs and the Wildebeest seemed out of their own league at times. – Adam Bannister


The Wild Dogs lost the advantage and were driven away by the lead territorial male of the herd of Wildebeest. It was incredible to watch the bravery of the bull as he chased off the entire pack – Adam Bannister

Written, photographed and filmed by Adam Bannister

Adam Bannister
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One Response to African Wild Dogs and Wild Beasts: The Khoikhoi Called Them “Gnou”

  1. Grannie Banana November 4, 2011 at 4:05 am #

    In the right place at the right time! Awesome pics and good read!

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