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Wild Dog Plays Dead to Escape Lions

​We did a poll with our community, asking who you think would win in a fight between lions and wild dogs. In 9 hours we had nearly 2,000 votes. Lions won, with 82% of people voting for lions. However, this video shows that it might not all be about brute strength, and maybe having some brains can get you to live through a clash with lions.

This is the incredible moment a pack of wild dogs chase impala right into a pride of lions, where one dog gets caught. You think the dog is done for, but it plays dead, waiting for the perfect moment to make a run for it.

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Klaus Boehmer tells the story: “I am a German engineer in my 50s who has been visiting Africa for close to twenty years now, usually joined by my teenage daughter Kira. July 2017 would see us back in Botswana. For me, it was my fourth trip, Kira had been there once before. However, none of us had ever visited the Khwai Community Concession. Khwai is well known for its healthy population of wild dogs, my favourite animals, and sure enough, right on our very first game drive, thanks to the help of other guides, our mobile safari camping guide “Master” was able to show us the den of the local pack, a half-hour drive away from our camp.

Wild dogs, especially wild dogs with pups, usually hunt twice a day, early in the morning and late in the afternoon, and then return to the den to feed their offspring. Our daily routine was thus to leave camp at the crack of dawn, head straight to the den and then try to follow the pack on their chases.

July 20th was at first no exception, we were anxious to see if the dogs were still sleeping or had already left to find their breakfast. However, on our way to the den, our guide spotted a few other safari vehicles in the distance. He suggested making a quick detour to find out what they were looking at. Initially, I was reluctant, fearing that we might miss out on the wild dog pack but after a short discussion, we headed towards Master’s colleagues.

The guides had discovered a pride of lions with a wildebeest kill. We counted two huge male lions, three or four females and a few cubs. One of the males had claimed the carcass exclusively for himself, he would let no other lion near it, not even the cubs, so the rest of the pride was spread out in the grass, waiting for their turn to eat.

The community that runs the Concession has allowed off-road driving so guides and tourists can get rather close to their sightings. Together with the other vehicles, we had formed a semi-circle around the lions.

A few minutes later I was ready to leave when all of a sudden one of the guides shouted “Impala, impala” and then “Wild dogs, wild dogs” – two wild dogs were chasing a lone impala at full speed, oblivious of the dangers ahead of them. Within seconds the adult lions had crouched into their attack positions. Those who were expecting them to try and take down the impala were proven wrong, the eyes of the lions were solely locked on the dogs. And sure enough, the leading dog ran straight into the pride. He was obviously no match for the lions, one of the big males overpowered him, while luckily the second dog was able to stop its sprint and escape.

For a minute or so all one could hear were the sounds of the animals in front of us. Their human audience was shell-shocked, I am sure none of us, not even the veterans of the guides, had witnessed anything remotely similar before. And that was not even the end of it. While the people around me thought the dog was dead, I noticed it was still moving. Nevertheless, the lions hardly paid any attention to their foe, instead of killing the dog for good they spread out again. The dog made use of their carelessness – and ran off! Most of us were happy, after all, it is only human to cheer for the (in this case literally) underdog. My daughter, however, felt a bit sorry for the lion who had let the dog escape.

The rest of the day we spent looking for the miracle survivor. Master, our guide, was convinced it had died but I was not yet ready to give up. And sure enough, around six o’clock it came limping back to the den. If you look closely, you can see some of the bite marks the lions had inflicted.

We spent three more nights In Khwai. During this time “sick guy”, as we had started to call him, would never leave the den area. The other members of the pack would try to feed him with bits and pieces of the kills they made, but “sick guy” would not even eat. A year later, on our return trip to Khwai, our guide told us that the dog had survived a few more weeks but then finally died.


For Kira and me, it was and still is, three years and six African Safaris later, our best wildlife sighting ever.”

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