Hell hath no fury like a mother's wrath! And when that mother weighs several tons? Well ... you get the picture. 

Tourists in South Africa's Kruger National Park wasted no time grabbing their phones when a pack of wild dogs got a bit too close to a mother elephant and her young calf – but despite what some reports suggest, the dogs were not in attack mode. 

According to the head of conservation at the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), Dr Harriet Davies-Mostert, who has done extensive work on wild dogs, it appears as if the pack simply crossed paths with the ellies. 

"In fact, the wild dogs look pretty disinterested," she says. "I am not aware of a single case of wild dogs taking an elephant calf."

Had the dogs been on the hunt, we would expect to hear the typical "chittering" sounds that a pack uses to communicate excitement. And while the dogs pose no threat to the meandering elephants, the large animals are known to react this way in their presence. 

"In my experience elephants intensely dislike wild dogs," says Davies-Mostert. "Even adult herds without calves as small as this one will react noisily and become upset when wild dogs are nearby."

Exactly why they do this is something of a mystery – but for a conservationist out in the field, it can be a bit of a pain. "My heart always used to sink when I was doing night radio-tracking fieldwork and the pack of wild dogs bumped into an elephant herd – invariably the elephants would get grumpy and take it out on me!" says Davies-Mostert.

It's also possible that the elephant in this particular scenario was a first-time mom, and without her herd nearby, reacted more fiercely. "This is a nice bit of footage," adds Davies-Mostert. "These were lucky tourists."


Top header image: Mathias Appel, Flickr