Hyenas are more than capable of hunting down their own supper, but when opportunity knocks, the carnivores will readily live up to the stereotype of brazen scavenger.

On a recent game drive in the predator-rich south of South Africa's Kruger National Park, tourist Koert Grobler landed a front-row seat to a showdown between two age-old rivals: a pack of painted dogs with a fresh kill, and a pair of hyenas out looting some lunch.

“To see wild dogs in the Kruger is very rare, but to see them devouring a kill five metres in front of you is basically unheard of," Grobler told Latest Sightings when describing the memorable scene. "The fact that it was so close that I could hear every bite as if I were standing right next to them made it even more special.”

Wild dogs – sometimes called African painted dogs for their mottled coats – are exceptionally efficient pack hunters described by some as the "ultimate cooperative persistence predator(s)". However, their small stature makes the dogs 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.

Seconds after Grobler began filming the feasting pack, a hyena charged into the fray, dispersing the dogs in a cacophony of cackles. "Hyenas over the centuries have wised up to the success of the wild dogs and are often seen trailing behind packs at a distance, waiting to steal their kills," writes field guide Sean Zeederberg about a similar incident that was filmed at Londolozi Private Game Reserve last year. Wild dogs usually scoff their meals in a hurry while scoping the horizon for potential plunderers. When a carcass comes under siege, the dogs' strength-in-numbers offensive can sometimes get the better of bigger rivals, but victory wasn't on the cards here – especially when a second scavenger barrelled onto the scene.

With the dogs cautiously watching from the sidelines, the hyenas turned their attention on each other and began jostling for possession of the prized quarry. Unlike the relatively organised feeding hierarchy practised in wild dog packs, competition for food is savage among the members of a hyena clan, and the tussle only ended when the carcass was split in two.

The dogs, however, did not give up and were later seen salvaging some scraps from one of their bulkier rivals. 

Top header image: Mathias Appel/Flickr