The African wild dog has been considered an endangered-species, and only 4 populations remain in Africa. One of these populations is based in the Kruger National Park. The survival of the wild dog depends on the strength of a specific pack as the chances of a lone wild dog is not a great as it is difficult for them to catch prey or evade other predators. However when in a pack the dogs work together extremely well and become fierce predators.
The African wild dog has the highest structured social-order when compared to all the carnivores. They live in a pack that will be led by a dominant female and male. All the other members in a pack play subordinate roles to their alpha pair.
The wild dog will usually stay away from areas that are dominated by hyena and lion.
In the Kruger Park there are approximately 450 to 500 dogs and to see some of them is considered very fortunate. They tend to roam over long distances and can travel up to around 50km in just one day when they are in search of food. These dogs can typically be viewed in the Moremi, Chobe and a few in Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
Wild dogs are highly experienced in what is known as a collective approach when it comes to hunting. Their hunting usually begins at sunrise or a sunset when these animals perform a greeting ceremony where they lick and sniff each other, wag their tails and make strange twittering sounds.
The African wild dog uses a number of chattering-sounds and uses a long-distance distinctive greeting call that sounds like a sharp “Hoo”. This particular sound can be heard as far as 4 kilometers away. However, when they are in hunting mode they remain silent and on some occasions will hunt when there is a full-moon. The Wild dogs generally fan through bush in order to locate antelope herds, but in most cases they find impala herds. Once they find a herd, they target a vulnerable member such as a young buck or a female.
One of the subordinate males of the pack will begin the hunt in an attempt to isolate the prey from its herd. Once the targeted animal is separated and identified, the alpha-male of the wild dog pack will lead the hunt and the race of endurance begins.
These animals are known as high-stamina hunters that are able to maintain 40 kilometer per hour pace over a span of five kilometers and they can increase this speed to 60 kilometers an hour in short bursts. The pack will split up during their hunt and some of the dogs will try to force the prey into a circle toward the other dogs.
If this tactic fails they carry on with firm determination, while each dog will take a turn to increase their pace. They begin to tear and nip at the victim every time the animal slows down. They basically run their prey to the point of exhaustion. When the prey finally collapses, these dogs begin to feed immediately well before the prey dies from blood loss.
Unlike the hyenas that feasts chaotically and noisily, the wild dogs behave in a restrained as well as orderly manner at a kill. The younger dogs are allowed to feed first, that is then followed by the “subordinate” females and males, and the alpha pair will feed at any-time. Every dog will wait for their turn. If there is not enough to feed the entire pack, the hunt will immediately begin again.
The subordinate females perform the role of supporting nursing females that remain behind in their den. These females will overeat when they feed and then go directly back to their den in order to regurgitate the food so that the young and the mother are able to eat.
The litter size for wild dogs is usually between 4 to 8 puppies. They are allowed to suckle for a period of 3 months before they are taught the art of hunting. The wild dogs will hunt every single day due to the fact they require more food. The main part of their diet includes impalas. However, they will attack the bigger game that includes zebra, reedbuck, waterbuck, kudu and wildebeest.