Wildebeest Has No Chance Against This Pack of Wild dogs

May 25 2015

For anyone that has witnessed a wild dog kill I am sure they will be in agreement with me that it is not a pleasant sight, in fact it can be rather emotional to watch. Simon Vegter senior guide and co-founder pf wild-wing-safaris.com says, “They are co-operative hunters and once an animal is caught, there is not much aggression amongst individual members. They hunt on a daily basis, but mostly smaller antelope (like impala). To see them bring down a wildebeest is very special. At least this will provide enough food for the entire pack.” Simon enlightens us further regarding our painted wolves and wildebeest… 

TB:  How do wild dogs typically hunt? On watching them they seem to have great strategy between themselves?
SV: Wild dogs are co-operative pack hunters. They use their stamina to chase an animal down. There is not much stalking involved, but once an animal has been identified, they can run after their prey at 50-60km/h, tiring it out in the process. Their powerful jaws will clasp onto the prey and bring it down. They don't suffocate the prey like cats do, but instead, begin tearing into the animal and disembowelling it whilst still alive. This may seem completely inhumane, but can often terminate the animals life faster than the suffocation technique used by cats. Their hunting strategy has proven more successful than those of cats.

TB: What is the biggest enemy of the wild dog?
Wild dogs have many threats. Lions can be a big threat to both pups and adults. In the Kruger Park one of the major concerns are illegal snares that indiscriminately catch wild dogs (and other  animals). The local vet is often called out to remove these snares when found on the dogs. Another big threat is the spread of disease among their close-knit population. Canine distemper and rabies can quickly spread among an entire population (as has happened in the Serengeti in 1990/91)

TB: What is the most interesting thing you can tell us about wild dogs?
SV: Wild dogs are the second most endangered carnivores in Africa, next to the Ethiopean wolf. There are only three genetically viable populations left in the wild. What this means is that within a population their genes don't have to be manually manipulated by bringing in fresh genes for diversity. The Kruger Park is one such population where new packs are still formed in a natural manner.

TB: And wildebeest, can you enlighten us more about them please?
SV: Wildebeest are sometimes thought of as a bovine because of their cow-like appearance. But they are in actual fact an antelope related to species like topi, tsessebe and hartebeest.

TB: Can you fill us in on the social structure of wildebeest, why do we often see just one?
SV:Their social structure can vary depending on where in Africa they occur. In East Africa, wildebeest migrate after the rain and males only set up temporary territories during the rutting season. For the rest of the year they migrate with the rest of the herd. The Kruger males will set up a permanent territory and wait for herds of females to move into their area. That is why one often sees a solitary bull by himself, or accompanied with other animals.


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