Watching wild dogs on an unsuccesfull hunt

Old Feb 9th, 2007, 03:51 AM
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Watching wild dogs on an unsuccesfull hunt

I wrote about the experience of seeing a pack of wild dogs catching a wildebeest here:

this was on my first night in Suyan.
The second day we were lucky to see the dogs hunt again:

The day after seeing the pack of wild dogs catch a wildebeest, we went on the morning gamedrive. We didn't want to skip a chance of seeing the dogs!
Unfortunately we didn't see the dogs that morning, but it was a nice gamedrive and we followed a cheetah for a while. (beeing mocked by a group of wildebeest... )

The rest of the day we spent resting and watching the photo's of the day before.
At around 16:30 we took of with Ethan again in an open vehicle to see if we could find the dogs again.
While driving around we noticed that all the game was more scattered around on multiple hills, so it would be more likely to miss the action if we would be watching the wrong hills.
We drove around looking for the cheetah of that morning (she was very hungry and most probably would have to hunt..) but we had no luck.
After a while we drove to the highest hill to have a good view of the whole area.

We stood there and took a drink, and watched all the animals keen to see any sign of fear or nervousness amongst the animals.

After a while we saw a hyena running towards us, as beeing chased. But we couldn't discover anything. The hyena was then chased of by some wildebeest as well, which was entertaining to watch. We stood there watching on the hill, just like the vultures around us in the trees, waiting for the action. As the sun was coming down, the animals were slowly moving away from the woodland and ditches into the plains, but all quite at ease. After a while some zebra's started running out of the woodlands, instead of just walking at ease, so we thought; time for action!
But we couldn't see or hear more, the zebras calmed down and that was it..
With time passing by, the feeling that we would miss out on the action that night grew.
Then all of a sudden we heared a few alarm calls of zebra's, that didn't stop and more zebra's started making the alarm calls. So the adrenaline was starting to flow through our bodies again, this was definetaly a sign of SOMETHING going on!
Then all of a sudden we saw all the animals flee away again and there they were; the dogs!
8 of them this time (the injured adult was joining the hunt again) and a few meters behind the adults, all the pups!
Because of the distance, and the hard drive down the hill, we decided to stay and watch the action through our bino'
But soon, the dogs stopped running, and it was clear that they decided to halt their first chase. We rushed into the car and drove down towards them as soon as possible. The pups were playing and the adults were going on another chase. Walking slowly with the ears flat in the back.
They ran on a herd of wildebeest, and it was soon clear that they were aiming for a young wildebeest. They chased it and the leader came very close, but missed on his first attempt to get a hold of the wildebeest. The wildebeest ran down the hill, towards a ditch and a water crossing, which he could clear more easily than the dogs. Safe on the other side the dogs gave up this chase as well.
Increadible action to witness from this close, and after yesterday, I could help but chear also for the wildebeest how managed to get away
We sticked to the dogs, as it was evidend that they would make at least one more try.
While approaching the dogs again, it was really cool to see how relaxed they were beeing around the car. some of them actualy started chasing the car, and some came very close to take a good look at us
They soon after that, started to walk in their hunting pace again, and approached another group of wildebeest. Again they started chasing, and chased a heard of wilbedeest just around our car!
They singeled out another wildebeest again, but is was quite a big one this time. When it was singeled out, the wildebeest stopped, and turned around to face the dogs. The wildebeest was showing of its strength! It even jumped around a little, as to say; look at me being strong!
This impressed the dogs enough to give up on this chase. And they started playing again.

We doubted if the dogs would make another attemp that night, because it was getting dark already. They probably would go on a hunt the following morning.
At this time it was also to dark to stay around any longer, so we had to abandon the dogs, and go back to the camp.

Another great experience with the dogs, and seeing them fail on a hunt was good for my complete picture of the dogs. After the ease with which they made the kill the day before, I was really thinking they could kill whatever they want, but 2 wildebeests proved otherwise that night.

pictures of this hunt were a little bit harder to take, since the sun was already down when it started, but I think I still managed to get some good ones.
Watch them here:
Nikao is offline  
Old Feb 9th, 2007, 05:08 AM
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Cheetah and dogs.......that to me makes a perfect day!!!! thanks....
Old Feb 9th, 2007, 07:43 AM
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Wow, amazing to get to watch the hunts develop in such an open area -- very lucky. This area is on my radar for a visit, thanks for the reporting.
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 09:08 AM
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Excellent writing!
Even the dogs fail. If I remember correctly, they are the most succesful predators right? Most of the time they try they get a kill. Someone out there must have the percentages, compared to the big cats
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 10:24 AM
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Wayne: you are correct, considered by far to be the most successful hunter in Africa and according to some studies the entire world. A lot of the problem is what is defined as a hunt. I have seen it stated that they kill up to 85% of what they chase. A very good detailed study in the Selous that included a large number of packs found a 44% success rate but larger packs (10 adults or more) was at 60% so pack size has a lot to do with it. That was also largely in wooded areas so a more open habitat type would likely be different, I would think more successful in actual chases since they are not stealth predators but they would also lose more kills to other predators in the open.

I don't know about her success rate but in that study one lone female was able to hunt impala successfully for 8 months by herself.
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 10:59 AM
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I think I read somewhere that part of the dogs success is that they can run at a decent speed, like 30MPH for a long long period of time.

When you combine that with the large numbers that they sometimes hunt in, one or two dogs can lead the chase, then a few more take over, then a few more. meanwile the prey never gets to slow down and simply cannot get the chance to stop running and just tires out.

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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 12:07 PM
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Exactly Wayne the dogs are all stamina and can go a long time which is why they are not particularly stealthy, they don't often try for the quick kill they want to tire the prey and make it easier.

Interestingly in the USA our pronghorn antelope (not really in the antelope family) is the second fastest running animal in the world to the cheetah and developed as such during the Pleistocene period when cheetah were in the area. However, it would have the same problem as African antelope due to wolves hunting in a similar manner to the wild dogs. Thus the pronghorn which can go 60 for 3 or 4 minutes (much longer than a cheetah) can also cruise at 40 mph for over an hour, some have even reported 30-40 mph for 3-4 hours. Two different types of predators have made it the ultimate running animal.
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 06:43 PM
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we saw one take off after a puku and man that thing could run! never saw an animal run so fast, came back empty handed and was barely panting.
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