The Wild dogs have some fun

Wild dogs

Wild dogs by Pieter Van Wyk

The Wild dogs must have somehow gotten wind of the fact that we were planning on featuring them in this week’s edition of Video Thursday, because this morning we caught sight of them for the first time in a while. These astute predators were on the hunt at West Street when we found them, but quickly moved north along the river at their usual breakneck speed. We managed to keep up with them however, and watched as they honed in on and killed an adult impala.

Wild dogs are cursorial hunters, meaning that they pursue their prey in a long, open chase, rather than relying on stealth like most members of the cat family. They can reach speeds of up to 45 mph while in pursuit of their prey. They’re also of the most successful of the predator species, with about 85% of their hunts resulting in a kill.

Pack members vocalize to help coordinate their movements. Their voice is characterized by an unusual chirping or squeaking sound, similar to a bird. After a successful hunt, the dogs will regurgitate meat for those that remained at the den during the hunt, such as the dominant female and the pups. Occasionally, they will also feed other pack members such as very old dogs that cannot keep up. This is in complete contrast to lions, whose approach is, ironically, a dog eat dog one.

We saw these great animals a total of four times in December. The first two sightings were on the western bank in the south, where they chased a herd of kudu around for a while without success. The next time we saw them they killed three impala – an adult and two youngsters – in one morning. When we finally left them they’d collapsed in the shade to sleep off their full bellies. We followed up on them again later that day, and the last we saw of them was in the evening as they headed north and westwards just north of Stwise. Hopefully they’ll decide to come back and den here at MalaMala this winter.

Happy almost weekend folks, enjoy!

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