By Katie Rawlins

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

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It took six wild dogs just 45 minutes to devour the whole impala

A PACK of african wild dogs brutally brought down and devoured an impala in Kruger National Park, South Africa.

South African photographer Eben Geldenhuys and wife Elena had front row seats - capturing all the action from only 20 metres away.

Vultures soon spotted the fresh kill and start looking for leftovers

The 47-year-old said: “We saw most of the hunt, except for the final take down of the impala by the dogs.

“The dogs immediately began to eat the impala, ripping flesh while it was still alive.”

Stare off: A wild dog eyes up the photgrapher
Opportunistic vultures are chased away by sentries

Their unbelievable speed - up to 35 miles-per-hour - and impressive stamina has led wild dogs to be considered one of the most efficient hunters in Africa

However, recent conflicting research by scientists from the Royal Veterinary College suggests otherwise with much shorter hunts and lower kill rates recorded.

Wild dogs are nomadic animals and can traverse up to 50km in a single day

Unusually, wild dogs have a highly structured social order and communicate with a wide range of vocalisations and physical contact.

Teamwork is central to their hunting and survival and they have even been known to share food with sick members of the pack.

Their gory hunting methods are not for the feint hearted

The Cape Town based photographer said: “It was fascinating to see how the dogs went about devouring the impala whilst it was still alive and it showed how efficient and effective these animals are at hunting.

“It took about 45 minutes for these six dogs to devour the whole of the impala.

Using early mornings and late evenings to hunt they can often be seen sunbathing at midday

“They even took turns chasing away vultures who started to gather at the kill site.”

Constant hunting by humans and ever-shrinking territories has left wild dogs as one of the most endangered carnivores in South Africa.

Kills are shared with the whole pack so none of them go hungry

Although their hunting method looks brutal - and has led to them being feared and persecuted - it actually kills the animal quicker than more traditional hunting methods.

Eben has a passion for photography which began when he taught himself how to use his wife’s camera and he now frequently visits Kruger National Park to capture South Africa’s wealth of wildlife.

A single pack’s territory can range from 400 to 1500 square kilometres

Geldenhuys said: “Just to see endangered wild dogs in the wild is already a rare and special moment, but actually seeing a hunt and then witnessing how they go about devouring their kill is not something that can be described in words.”

Despite their size, as a pack they can bring down 250 kilogram wildebeest

Conservation efforts are now being made to boost numbers of wild dogs but there are currently only around 450 of them left in South Africa.

He added: “If our images can motivate people to not only do what they can to protect wildlife, but also inspire them to visit our natural parks and to experience nature in its rawest form, then it would be a job well done.”