Wild Card member Ed Aylmer shares his photographs of some interesting behaviour between black-backed jackals and a wounded gemsbok from a recent trip to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

Ed writes:

Whilst travelling along the Nossob river bed towards Leeuwdril, I noticed a lone gemsbok standing on its own in an open stretch of the river bed.

KgalagadiJackalGemsbok1-Ed Aylmer-Apr2014

It appeared to be wounded and had extremely limited mobility. On closer observation, I saw that it had open wounds on its hind legs and lower back. The wounds appeared to have been caused by lions that tried to attack it from behind and left bleeding scratch marks. Because of its wounds, the gemsbok was only able to sit down – and even sitting looked to be a painful process.

I knew that if I waited, something would happen. Soon, a couple of jackals who had picked up the scent of blood appeared on the scene. They took turns moving closer to the gemsbok, to lick the blood-stained ground around the animal’s rear. They also tried testing the gemsbok’s reactions by making frontal approaches.

KgalagadiJackalGemsbok2-Ed Aylmer-Apr2014

KgalagadiJackalGemsbok3-Ed Aylmer-Apr2014

This interaction carried on over a two-day period and it was evident the gemsbok was getting weaker by the day, with the lack of food or water. It seemed a matter of time before it would succumb to a predator.

A few days later, I returned to the scene but the gemsbok had disappeared from its usual location. Upon further investigation, I discovered lions had finally killed it and had dragged the carcass to the shade of a nearby tree.

KgalagadiJackalGemsbokLion-Ed Aylmer-Apr2014

Once the lions had eaten their fill they left. The next morning, I found the carcass back in the area where the drama began and the jackals were feeding on it.

KgalagadiJackalGemsbok5-Ed Aylmer-Apr2014

KgalagadiJackalGemsbok6-Ed Aylmer-Apr2014

I felt rather sad to have witnessed the fate of the gemsbok, yet amazed that it had managed to survive so long in its wounded state. It was almost as if it had chosen to stay in an open area so that it could see any oncoming danger.

Ed shot this sequence using a Canon 7D, with two lenses: a Canon 70-200mm F2.8L and a Canon 500mm F4L.