The African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) is the largest canine dog in Africa. This ferocious predator inhabits open plains and lightly wooded areas – great places to observe and hunt prey – in southern and southeastern Africa.
Wild dogs are social animals that hunt in cooperative packs of 6 to 20 or more individuals. They can thus overcome prey five times their size. These herds prefer to hunt antelope, but as opportunistic predators, wild dogs also hunt larger prey such as wildebeest, as well as rodents and birds. Even baboons can fall victim to the hunting tactics of wild dogs.
These dogs use different hunting strategies depending on the prey. Typically, when attacking an antelope, members of the herd split up, hunting alone or in pairs. Their goal is to separate one of the antelopes from the herd. Once they have their target, these nimble hunters cut off all possible exits to prevent the victim from rejoining the pack, biting its paws until it is too weak to continue running. Using their sharp teeth and powerful jaws, they aim for the belly of their prey and kill it. Other pack members quickly join the party. They must eat quickly because the hyenas will try to steal their catch. An average wild dog eats about 4 kg of meat per day. Their long legs and large lungs give them the endurance to chase their prey for an hour, and they can reach speeds of 70 km/h. The species’ hunting success rate is 80%, making it one of the most effective African predators.
The gray wolf
Like wild dogs, gray wolves (Canis lupus) hunt in packs of 2 to 15 or more individuals. Their preferred prey is ungulates, such as deer and elk, and they travel up to 30 miles (48 km) in search of a meal. Once they have found a potential prey, they choose their victim. If it tries to escape, a chase begins, wolves can run up to 56 km/h. When their victim is exhausted, the wolves subdue it by using their powerful jaws to bite its rump. They can consume 10 kg of meat in a single meal and survive several days without eating. They also have the strongest bite of any dog, and their 2.5cm long fangs can crush the bones of their prey with just a few bites.
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