Competition for food is fierce in the African bush and smaller predators like wild dogs must often fight to defend a meal. While on a recent game drive in South Africa's Londolozi Private Game Reserve, field guide Roddy Watson landed a front-row seat to a scuffle between a wild-dog pack and a clan of hungry hyenas – two carnivores that often clash over food.

Watson came across the six-strong pack just as the canines were heading out for an early morning hunt. Wild dogs – sometimes called African painted dogs for their mottled coats – are exceptionally efficient pack hunters and it wasn't long before one of the pack had landed a kill. The hunt did not go unnoticed by a clan of hyenas, however, that were likely trailing the dogs hoping for a chance to snatch an easy meal.

Wild dogs have a small stature that makes them particularly vulnerable to kleptoparasitism from other carnivores, and it's not uncommon for the much bigger and burlier spotted hyenas to muscle in on wild dog kills. The dogs usually eat their meals in a hurry while scoping the horizon for potential plunderers. If a carcass comes under siege, the dogs' strength-in-numbers offensive can sometimes get the better of bigger rivals, but with only six dogs to defend this kill, the remains of the meal were easily claimed by the hyenas.

Top header image: Temple Travels