Wild dog kill video to air on National Geographic
by Deon de Villiers – 8 April 2011
A few years after Jaci’s Lodges’ Neil Steedman posted footage from his game drive of a pack of wild dogs taking down a kudu close to his vehicle at a dam in the game reserve, he was contacted by a production company to take the story to the National Geographic Channel.
Wild dogs have only just recently been recorded on rolling media from start to finish on a successful hunt, which has helped scientists and conservationists alike put together a few missing links in wild dogs' hunting strategies.
It was previously believed that wild dogs hunted strategically together as a pack, taking turns to run down their prey over vast distances and ultimately tire it out for a group killing and feeding. It is now believed that this isn't the case, and that each dog, whilst hunting communally, still focuses entirely on its own objectives when running down prey and acts as a single hunting unit within a greater hunting pack.
However, their hunting formation does tend to herd their prey, often towards a natural barrier such as a water hole. After capturing and killing the animal they then feed together as a pack again.
I include extracts from HubPages, and their study entitled: “The World’s Greatest Hunters”:
Best Animal in Hunting its Prey
If there was an award, ‘Best Animal in Hunting its Prey’, which animal do you think would win it? Obviously, man would come up as the winner and in this article we have to omit man for obvious reasons. While every animal is a good hunter in its own right, the African wild dog is indeed world’s greatest hunter. Of course there are other great hunters such as spiders, great white sharks, wolves (related to African wild dogs), alligators and turtles.
Efficiency in hunting
Hunting is the pursuit, capture and killing of wild animals as prey for food. Efficiency in hunting is measured by the catch per unit of effort. An animal having a success rate of 30% of the time it attempts to catch a prey is considered efficient. The African wild dog has a success rate of 80%, which ranks it as one of the world’s greatest hunters. Contrast this with 55% for the great white shark and 30% for the African lion.
Hunting large animals
When African wild dogs are in high spirits on the hunt, they will attempt to hunt large animals such as large antelope, warthog, zebra, buffalo and young giraffe.
Catching a large animal is difficult and requires the dog to use more closely coordinated attacks. They start by making a rapid charge aimed at stampeding and scattering the herd. Once the herd is separated, they all zero in on one animal. One dog latches onto the prey’s tail, two attack the upper lip, and the others rip open the bowel.
By instinct, every African wild dog should learn how to hunt, but the large-animal hunting tactic is a passed from one generation of dogs to the other. Hunting large animals is specific to only a few packs.
Below are two pictures showing this strategy employed by African wild dogs hunting a wildebeest. Photos courtesy of Deon de Villiers.
Nonetheless, as scientists and conservationists continue their studies – and they will no doubt change their minds at some stage when new evidence appears in this ongoing saga of one of the world’s most successful hunters – we at Jaci’s still continue to witness a phenomenon that not many get to see.
Neil’s encounter of the sighting and the footage he obtained from his guests will now be viewed by millions on the National Geographic Channel after already recording 100,000 web hits since it went viral.
We will keep loyal Jaci’s fans updated on the progress and planned screening dates of the footage.