When a Warthog Attacks in the Kafue

It was whilst on an afternoon drive from Musekese Camp, Jeffery & McKeith Safaris in north central Kafue National Park, Zambia that we witnessed the most unexpected and, as far a we know, as yet photographically un-documented sighting ever…

We had just had the first brief rainstorm of the season and the wildlife was noticeably excited and full of energy, with young animals running around merrily and the migratory birds in their hundreds picking off the newly hatching ants and termites.

As we rounded a bend in a very attractive stretch of miombo woodland our guide Tyrone heard the frantic alarm calls of a herd of impala. Putting his binoculars to his eyes he shouted almost immediately, let’s go! As we moved further along the track to get a better look at what the commotion was all about, he was explaining that he had seen a grey shape tussling with what looked to be a young impala.

Tyrone assumed it was a baboon snatching an easy kill (as sometimes happens at this plentiful time of year). What we found however was emphatically not a baboon, but a lone, single warthog acting rather franticly, but what was it doing exactly?
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The other guests in the vehicle were asked to use their camcorders to record this moment, which they did. We sat and watched as a still very much alive and kicking young impala was set upon, attacked and gored to death by the warthog. In what seemed to be a frantic rage the warthog would tusk and stab and throw the kicking body of the impala around the woodland, all the time the mother of the baby was alarm calling and frantically running to and fro in an attempt to distract the killer warthog. It was so very strange to watch this unfold, it was a typical scene and setting, one that you might expect to find from a ‘typical’ predator.

Tyrone explained that it was not wholly uncommon to find warthog (and a number of other unexpected species) feeding on carcasses or carrion, especially at this time of year (the end of the dry season, when wildlife is a little more stressed and certain minerals and salts may not be so ready available in the bush). But to witness a warthog actively catch, kill and consume a baby impala was something that was very hard to explain. One wonders how often this may actually happen but we simply do not see it. We did feel sorry for the impala mother however, as who needs enemies when you’ve got friends like the warthog!

Larger than South Africa’s Kruger, Kafue National Park is the largest national park in Zambia but remains relatively unknown and unexplored. It is one of the last real wilderness areas left in Africa, home to vital global carnivore population including wild dog, lion, leopard and cheetah as well as one of Southern Africa’s most important elephant populations.

Written by Sarah Davies from Game Rangers International 

Find out more about Kafue here