I first came across wilddog after 6 years of looking for these magical creatures. Since then I have been very fortunate to see them on a number of occasions. As a wildlife enthusiast, I can safely say I have seen a variety of species belonging to the animal kingdom but not many have captured my love and attention as the African wild dog.
1) They are true wanderers: Covering territories of over 500km2 and therefore can be very hard to find on a game drive. However, once a litter is born, they will limit their movements and hunting areas closer to the den making them easier to locate.
2) They are a true team: Once dogs reach maturity, the males stay within the natal pack, and the females move on to join new packs. When the pups are old enough to eat solids, they are given the priority at a kill.
3) They care greatly for their young: A pack usually consists of one breeding pair and several non-breeding adult males. A breeding female will give birth once a year to a litter of an average of 10 pups in the shelter of thick bush or in a pre made hole. The hunting dogs normally return to the den and regurgitate meat for the nursing mother and the pups. The entire pack is involved in bringing up and the welfare of the pups.
4) The most incredible hunting style: They are one of the most efficient hunting species. They hunt in the early hours of dawn, late evenings and occasionally at night. Before they hunt they partake in a ceremony that bonds the pack and initiates a hunt – they will circulate amongst the other members vocalising and touching each other until they are excited enough to then go hunt.
When they hunt, some dogs follow their prey closely, whilst the others stay behind. They then take over when the front team gets tired. They have phenomenal stamina that tires their prey, and use their strength as a pack to bring their victim down. The leading dog – normally a dominant male or female will select a particular target and pursue it with others following close behind.
5) Their feeding habits: To avoid their kill being stolen, they eat very fast. Their biggest competitors are spotted hyenas. The dogs will keep the hyenas at bay by having some dogs on guard duty whilst others feed. They share when they feed and do not fight for food. Dogs that have remained behind to protect the puppies will be fed when the hunters return. Puppies will be fed first. Sick and injured dogs are also fed as long as they remain with the pack.