Golf will never be the same
Have you ever experienced a wild dog hunt on your local golf course?
I visited Aberdare country club in January this year and got an unexpected surprise when I stumbled onto a pack of wild dogs on route to one of the spots that we use for bush breakfasts. Since then they have stayed in the area close to the country club.
I was initially informed of an interesting development when of a young Eland calf became part of the stables at Aberdare’s country club. This was due to his mother being killed by the wild dogs a while ago. He now happily shares a stable with the horses at the country club and is being looked after by the grooms.
But this wasn’t the end of the story, more recently I picked up on the story of the wild dog pack again when they started hunting on the golf course itself.
Some recent golf enthusiasts got a pleasant although unexpected surprise when their golf game was completely overshadowed by the fact that they became the center of an Impala hunt. The wild dog pack charged past them while hunting an impala on the golf course.
These long-legged canines have only four toes per foot, unlike other dogs, which have five toes on their forefeet. The dog's Latin name means "painted wolf," referring to the animal's irregular, mottled coat, which features patches of red, black, brown, white, and yellow fur. Each animal has its own unique coat pattern, and all have big, rounded ears.
The dogs have a rather playful ceremony that bonds them for a common purpose and initiates each hunt. They start circulating among the other pack members, vocalizing and touching until they get excited and are ready to hunt. When prey is targeted, in this case the Impala grazing on the golf course, some of the dogs started running close to the animal, while others follow behind, taking over when the leader tired. They covered an extensive area of the 9 hole golf course during the hunt and ran past unsuspecting golf players while focussed on the Impala. They can reach speeds of up to about 35 miles per hour and are formidable hunters.
The African wild dog, typically roams the open plains and sparse woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa. But this large pack obviously prefer the golf course of Aberdare country club as the golf course is set within the 1300-acre game sanctuary with free roaming giraffes, zebras, Elands, Impalas, Warthogs, and baboons.
Marasa Africa “A world where the unforgettable happens” surely lived up to their slogan for these golfers when it comes to the Aberdare country club. I’m sure golf at this club will never be the same.
It is a very rare site to encounter or see these animals hunt. The African wild dog is an endangered species due to habitat loss and poaching. It uses very large territories (and so can persist only in large wildlife protected areas), and it is strongly affected by competition with larger carnivores that rely on the same prey base, particularly the lion and the Spotted Hyena. They only other predator that has been spotted and hunts in the area is leopard. This obviously contributes to their success in the area and their unwillingness to leave the new found Eden.
The Aberdare Country Club, only a two and a half hour drive northeast from Nairobi, is nestled on a slope of Mweiga Hill in the Aberdare Highlands, part of the Great Rift Valley. This captivating site was the homestead of an English couple that decided to settle in Kenya. Almost a half century later, their home, "The Steep", was renamed the Aberdare Country Club and opened for guests. Considered a heritage property in Kenya, The Aberdare Country Club has retained the charm of a private home with the simple comforts of a country inn.
No official ruling is in place should they decide to grab a golfers ball but I’m sure there has been interesting discussions surrounding the new players on the course at the country club bar.
Below is some footage of them hunting Impala on the golf course. Golf will never be the same.