Life in a wild dog pack

Lean, lethal and yet sur­pris­ingly lov­ing, these tena­cious dogs have mas­tered the art of sur­vival

World of Animals - - Nature Diaries: Canine Comeback -

Ex­pert hunters

African wild dogs hunt in co­op­er­a­tive, well­co­or­di­nated packs of up to 20 an­i­mals. As a re­sult, they are prob­a­bly Africa's most ef­fec­tive preda­tors, boast­ing an 80 per cent suc­cess rate on hunts, which is far higher

than the 30 per cent rate of lions.

Wild at heart

Wild dogs have never been suc­cess­fully do­mes­ti­cated. They are nat­u­rally dis­trust­ing

of humans, or in­deed any an­i­mal not in their own pack. As for their own, they will care for old, ill and wounded pack mates, and moth­ers will fiercely de­fend their pups against all com­ers un­til they are old enough

to de­fend them­selves.

Com­plex so­cial sys­tem

The so­cial hi­er­ar­chy of African wild dog packs is in­tri­cate and well es­tab­lished. There is an al­pha breed­ing pair in charge of each pack,

although pups al­ways feed first at kills.

Few nat­u­ral en­e­mies

Humans are by far the big­gest threat to African wild dogs. As for nat­u­ral en­e­mies in the wild, lions will kill these dogs, which means ar­eas of high lion den­sity gen­er­ally have low pop­u­la­tions of wild dogs. How­ever, it's not all one-sided: if it has to, a hun­gry

pack will take on a lion to ac­cess food.

Unique ge­net­ics

Although wild dogs share a com­mon an­ces­tor with wolves and other ca­nines, they are not ge­net­i­cally com­pat­i­ble,

so in­ter­breed­ing is im­pos­si­ble.

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