Not understood yet great!
With 2 anecdotes we’d like to tell more about the image of wild dogs. A south African ranger once told us that he was on a game drive with a number of American tourists. For the Americans it was their first drive . Within no more than 20 min. the group encountered a pack of wild dogs. While the ranger was euphoric, the Americans didn’t realize what they were looking at. Their question made this clear : “can we continue for the elephants please ? “
The second story is rather recent. Not very long ago, we attempted to explain colleagues and relatives how great it is to spot wild dogs. When we told that we’d seen an African wild dog, various people asked :” these are Dingos, true?”
Both stories tell the truth about the African wild dog. First of all, no one realises how scarce this great animal is and furthermore the wild dog is very unknown to the public. However, we are talking about one of the most threatened species in the world. In all southern Africa an estimated 5000 wild dogs live of which in Kruger NP probably just 100 to 400.
Wild dog live in relatively big packs with a leading female ruling it. She only tolerates her own kids and has no mercy for other pups : she bites them to death. This is one of the major reasons of the relatively small number of wild dogs in southern Africa. Another imporant reason is that African farmers still think (wrongly) that a wild dog kills for fun, making it a major threat for their flock. This idea is totally misplaced , because the wild dog is a real “hunter for life” and only takes prey for food; not for fun.
The pack’s hierarchy ensures a perfect cooperation of the members, proven by the fact that an unbelievable 90% of the huntings are successful ! This is tremendously high (a leopard doesn’t even reach a 10% score). Wild dogs hunt strategically and chase their prey into the direction of other members of the pack, who take over the prey, until it’s exhausted. Very effective indeed !
The spotting of wild dogs has always been an absolute peak of our journeys to Africa.