Going to the (Wild) Dogs. Madikwe Game Reserve

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you – it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you… Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” Anthony Bourdain. Celebrity chef,TV presenter and author.


For the duration of the COVID-19 lockdown here in South Africa, now due to end on 30th April, I will be delving into my archives for existing images and new stories to keep you entertained, educated and informed.


Wild Dogs are one of the most successful pack predators with an almost 80% success rate. This can be attributed to the social structure of packs and the constant coordination of the dog leading the hunt. Communication is key and to this end, there will be ‘consultation’ before, during and in the case of a failed hunt, after almost like a debrief. The dogs involved are constantly aware of where both prey and the rest of the pack are at all times. As a result, they are able to adapt their tactics to the changing situation during the hunt.


A favourite tactic is to force prey animals towards bodies of water in order to end a hunt successfully. This does not always work as they lose prey to lurking crocodiles on occasion. In Madikwe Private Game Reserve certain packs have learned to use the fence-line as an extra pack member. Driving prey into or towards the fence to effect a positive outcome for the pack.


Madikwe has lost many packs to rabies, spread to these endangered animals via domestic dogs that find their way into the reserve. Being social animals, the disease spreads very quickly, often wiping out entire packs.


It is of interest that the dogs do not fight over food at a kill. Unlike a lion pride where there can be violent interactions between members, the dogs eat fast and voraciously. They will also make certain that food is taken back to the den for the young, infirm and elderly. Here it is regurgitated and those dogs who were unable to hunt are also able to participate in the spoils.


Unlike many predators that depend on stealth and ambush skills, wild dogs hunt in packs and their prey is most definitely aware of their presence. They tend to run their prey until it is too tired to retaliate or escape, The pack will work as a cohesive unit, in order to bring the hunt to a successful conclusion.


Almost the entire carcass will be consumed. A pack can strip and eat a mature Wildebeeste in about 15 minutes, leaving only hooves and horns behind.


To the victor the spoils…It always amazes me as to how white their teeth are. Unlike most other predators whose dental array is often best described as off white, bordering on yellow.

Did you know? You cannot tame a wild dog as they lack the willingness to be touched by humans.




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