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Nature’s Corner – Wild dogs

Jun 20, 2022

By Alana Bailey

This pack of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) was found lying asleep next to the road near the Tshokwane picnic site in the Kruger National Park after a successful hunt. They are one of the most endangered species on earth. Only about 450 to 500 dogs are found in the Park.

They have the most structured social order of all local carnivores ‒ they live and hunt in packs together, led by a dominant (aplha) male and female. They are very dedicated parents and also caregivers of all the other pups in the herd. The cohesion of the herd ensures their survival and that is why they are so seriously endangered ‒ there are few places left that provide sufficient prey and space for packs like this group.

Wild dogs can reach a speed of 40 kilometres per hour for up to 5 kilometres, and even for short distances as fast as 60 kilometres. In this way they chase their quarry down. They are notorious for tearing chunks out of their prey while it is still alive, which gives them a bad reputation, but unlike, for example, hyenas that eat their prey amidst noise and chaos, wild dogs are more controlled and quiet. Order is maintained among themselves. The alpha pair will eat at any time, but otherwise the young get a turn first, followed by the subordinate males and females. Each dog awaits its turn, and when there is not enough food to go around, the hunt begins all over again. Like our domestic dogs, they need to eat daily. They can cover distances of up to 50 kilometres per day in search of food.

People who would like to know more about these fascinating animals or who enjoy documentaries about wildlife should watch Solo: The Wild Dog on You Tube.

The footage of the Kruger pack referred to above, has once again been provided by Katie and André of Two-V Productions. We thank them for their great videos. Please subscribe to their YouTube channel and follow their Facebook page. Books in their Op Vlerke series can be ordered from Kraal Uitgewers and should be available in the shops in the rest camps of the Kruger National Park soon. Number four in the series is available now! Please note that the books are published in Afrikaans only.

About the author

Alana Bailey

Alana Bailey is Head of Cultural Affairs at AfriForum

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