sabi sabi wild facts: african wild dog
Over the last few weeks we have been very privileged to see these beautiful creatures. They have moved their den onto our reserve and because of this we thought it would be appropriate to teach you a little more about these fascinating creatures.
The African Wild Dog is listed as highly endangered and is the second most endangered mammal in Africa. Their numbers are thought to be less than 5000 with as few as 300 in the Kruger National Park. Now, if you consider that the Kruger National Park is over 5 million hectares in size, you can understand how rare wild dogs really are. With home ranges extending anywhere between 200 and 1000 square kilometres per pack, it is a treat to see them.
The dogs have an amazing hunting strategy, making them the most successful hunters of any of the predatory mammals on the continent, with a success rate of around 80%. The packs chase their prey down over long distances, maintaining a running speed of 60km an hour for several kilometres. This leads to the weaker animals in the prey herd falling back and putting them in the perfect place for the dogs to catch and kill their prey. When feeding, these animals will devour their kill in 10 to15 minutes.
The pack is led by an Alpha Male and Female who do most of the breeding and can have anywhere up to 20 pups in a litter. There is a high infant mortality rate because of competition from lions, leopards and hyenas. When the pups are young the dogs will stay put in a relatively small area, hunting, eating and then running back to the den to regurgitate food for the pups and the den guardian. The den needs to be moved every so often to get relief from the parasite loads that build up during their stay.
As much as there is a desire to help this amazing species before it becomes extinct, it is incredibly difficult to find places to let them roam free. With the large home ranges required and the huge food consumption (sometimes as many as 3 impala in a day) there are not many places that are large enough to contain them or are willing to lose huge numbers of game stock. Hopefully we can keep expanding reserves so that we can get their numbers back to an acceptable level.