Andrew Batchelor (Head Ranger) shot this footage of African wild dogs on a Steenbok kill. The smallest of the antelopes found on MalaMala, the buck was more hors d’oeuvres than main course for the hungry pack.
African Wild dogs hunt in packs, usually in the early mornings or evenings. These astute predators have a nearly 80% success rate when hunting, and carcasses are consumed quickly, without snarling and bickering, to reduce the risk of the kill being stolen by larger predators.
What’s really interesting about the Wild dog’s hunting and feeding behaviour is the way they in which divide the spoils after a carcass has been eaten. A dog that has remained behind at the den to guard puppies, lost the trail of the hunt, or stood guard at a kill, begs food from other members by whining, nudging and nibbling their lips and licking their faces. In response, dogs that have eaten will regurgitate lumps of meat, sometimes directly into the supplicant’s mouth. Pack members feed weaning puppies in this way, and sick or injured members also receive a share of meat for as long as they remain in the pack.
It may well be sentimental, but the fact that these guys have such a close-knit social structure is heartwarming. Nature is often about the survival of the strongest and the fittest, and while that certainly has its place, to come across a species that takes care of its own makes for a pleasant change of pace in our dog eat dog world.
MalaMala’s Big 7 offers a brief introduction to the animals you can expect see on drive. And if that’s not enough to convince you that you need to visit South Africa’s largest privately owned game reserve, perhaps this will.
Happy almost weekend folks, enjoy!