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African Wild Dog - Lycaon pictus
canidae Wrote:Sighting of the year!
Every so often we get amazing sightings which are usually deemed super because of interactions between predator and prey, or between differing predators. Then you get exceptional sightings, those that are life changing and have little chance of playing out in the same way, or with the same interactions ever again.

This is what happened on Saturday afternoon, 28 July 2012.

All three of our game drive vehicles went out on what was a typically beautiful Northern Botswana afternoon. The bush was calm, there was little wind and the beauty of the Selinda Reserve exacerbated by the gentle afternoon sunlight.

KB tracked picked up the Wild Dogs early in the drive, and they followed as best they could through the bush as the Dogs darted here-and-there hunting for prey. The pack split up and and a short while later two dogs brought down a young male Impala. One Dog remained with the kill while the other galloped off to call the rest of the pack.

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The Wild Dog which made the kill remains behind.

The lone dog soon stopped eating, pricked its ears and turned its head to the bushes behind where it was standing. Then all of a sudden it hesitated, barked and ran off from the kill in the opposite direction to where it had just been facing. Then, like a ghost out of nowhere, a male Leopard came bounding in and stood over the kill!

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Male Leopard ambushes the Wild Dog and stands over the kill.

At this point, guides and guests are awe-struck as they gasp and remarked at the exceptional drama unfolding only meters away from the vehicles. Dogs don’t give up easily, and the Leopard knows this, so his next move is to protect the kill he has now “scavenged” from the Wild Dogs. So he does what all Leopards, who when co-existing with other predators, instinctively know to do; he caches the Impala carcass in the nearest tree.

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Leopard with its stolen kill.

With the carcass now secure in a tree, he waits for the inevitable return of the rest of the Wild Dogs. This is where this sighting goes from super to exceptional… the Dogs return and attempt to climb the tree after the Leopard!

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Wild Dogs leap up the sides of the tree after the Leopard and their kill.

What happens next is an amazing sequence of events that sees three of Selinda’s large predators pitted against each other in a squabble for the kill! The commotion must have attracted the attention of some Spotted Hyenas. “Spotties” as we call them, will often follow Wild Dogs around in the hope of scavenging bones and what little meat remains on a the carcass after the Wild Dogs have finished eating.

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Leopard safe in the tree, as the Wild Dogs and Hyena squabble below.

Eventually, and in total disgust, the Wild Dogs retreat no doubt to spend their energy on the task of finding another meal and they leave the Hyena’s who consider their options at the base of the tree.

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Hyena’s sniffing for scraps below the tree.

So through sheer cunning, ghost-like stealth and inane instinct this male Leopard ends the day as the victor, having stalked the Wild Dogs, stolen their kill and the watched gleefully from above as the Dogs and Hyenas were left to ponder what to do next!

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The victor!

The game viewing and species interactions have been none other than out-of-this-world here on the Selinda Reserve this season!! This really is paradise for the species that call it home!

Text by John Hilton.

Photographs by guest, Jeff Gurwin of Gurwin Photopraphy (thanks Jeff for sharing your pictures, and for coming back after an 11 year stretch!)


Wild Dogs tree Marthly male Leopard :

A Game Drive to Remember

by James Tyrrell on December 11, 2012

in Leopards of Londolozi,Photography,Wildlife Diary

The wild dogs had been found in the morning, quite by chance, as they stole a kill from a female leopard in the North of the property. They had vanished into the thickest and largest block on Londolozi (a block being an area between roads), and it was going to be a tough job to find them again in the evening.

Luck was with us, as ranger Alfred Mathebula found the pack snoozing in the afternoon heat right on our property’s North-westernmost corner. Time was against us, however, as any direction the dogs decided to run in in a 270 degree arc would take them off Londolozi, where we couldn’t follow, so we had to get there before they decided to move. The beauty of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park is its immense size and the lack of fences within the reserve; the animals can roam wherever they want to. We, on the other hand, are limited to our areas of traversing.

The wild dogs scamper around the rocks whilst the Marthly male leopard balances precariously in the branches of a bush willow tree, trying to stay out of reach of the snapping jaws below.

Anyways, we raced to where the pack had been found, but by the time we arrived they were already on the move, trotting through the bush just to the west of our boundary. We assumed they would disappear westwards and a brief glimpse of some painted coats and big ears would be all we would have.

How wrong we were.

They re-emerged back onto the boundary road, and with three Londolozi vehicles all holding our collective breaths, we watched them move past their most likely turnoff- a clearing on our neighbouring property. Scarcely believing our luck, we could hardly repress a cheer as these highly endangered carnivores swung eastwards back onto Londolozi, in the direction of Ximpalapala koppie and its surrounding clearings, an area rife with impala.

300m further on and it was all systems go! The dogs caught sight of a large impala herd and took off after them. The impala wasted no time alarm calling as they would if they saw a lion or leopard, but fled at first sight of the pack. Racing to keep up, we rounded a cluster-leaf thicket and nearly collided with a very large elephant bull that was caught up in the general panic of the herd and was running as fast as his legs could carry his 6-ton frame!

The Marthly male snarls at one of the dogs, only just out of their reach. One-on-one a leopard could easily kill a wild dog, but the strength of the dogs lies in the pack, and a group of them could pull a leopard to pieces.

Some of the impala headed for the rocks of the koppie, and just as it appeared that they would be caught, an enormous spotted shape rose out of the long grass, and in a massive reversal of fortunes, joined the impala in their headlong flight towards safety. It was the Marthly male leopard. He had probably been stalking the impala all afternoon, but once he was flushed by the dogs he realized they could tear him to pieces if they caught him, and thought it prudent to make tracks for the highest tree on the highest rocks.

Here he stayed whilst some of the pack snapped at his feet and tail. It was incredible to see some of the wild dogs almost face-to-face with this beast of the leopard world as they climbed the rocks to get at him.

Meanwhile, the other members of the pack had met with some success on the hunt and had brought down two impala lambs. Hearing the sounds of squabbling from the other side of the koppie, we left the leopard to wait it out in discomfort and moved futher round the rocks. The pups of the pack (now roughly 6 or 7 months old) were ripping one impala lamb apart, while the adults were feeding on a second a little further away.

Three of the adult dogs fight a tug-of-war over the remains of an impala lamb.

They made short work of both carcasses, and soon scampered off to a nearby pan to slake their thirst.

Seeing them preoccupied, the Marthly male tried to sneak away, but timed his run badly, as he was spotted by the Alpha male of the pack. Once more the dogs all rushed in to attack their adversary. Retreating up a rock fig, the leopard had a further uncomfortable 15 minutes wait before the pack headed off into the dusk.

Words cannot adequately describe the emotions at play in a sighting like this. Initially believing we would only have a brief glimpse of the pack, we never in our wildest dreams imagined it would develop into such a spectacular display of nature at its finest.

The Marthly male thanks his lucky stars he escaped with an intact hide. The dogs had by this time faded into the evening, and the leopard had skulked down out of the rock fig in which he had been hiding to nurse his injured pride.

There was hardly any time to take a camera out and snap some pictures. It hardly matters. I will never forget one of the best and most exciting evenings I will have in the bush. Ever.

Written and Photographed by James Tyrrell

"Recently, in the Okavango, a leopard male was killed and devoured by a pack of wild dogs when caught venturing too close to a den with pups."
Beat About the Bush : Mammals
Unfortunatley found on limited Google Books - there maybe other interactions in the book.
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Reddhole Wrote:Below is a description of a hunt showing two AWD doing most of the work in killing an adult mare zebra.

The author was a colleague of author of study above. Adult male AWDs in east Africa are smaller than their
southern African relatives and average around 20 KG or 44 lbs.

Source: Solo - The Story of an African Wild Dog - Hugo Van Lawick P 71-73

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Reddhole Wrote:AWD pack takes down adult male warthog.

Source: Solo - The Story of an African Wild Dog - Hugo Van Lawick P 97-100

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RojJones Wrote:After reading Africa Geographic’s article about the wild dogs and a leopard at Limpopo-Lipadi I was reminded of the leopard that guests at Kwando Safaris’ Lagoon Camp saw killed by a pack of dogs when he ventured too near their den in the heat of the day. The guests were on their way to the airstrip and the wild dog den was en-route so the guide, Steve Kgwatalala, made a turn near the den. Occasionally some of the dogs would get up and glare into a bush nearby and growl before laying down again. Steve thought that their must be something in the bush, so they decided to wait a while to see if anything happened. Shortly thereafter a male dog leapt up, growling, and ran into the grass followed by several other dogs. A leopard had jumped out of the bush and they grabbed the fleeing leopard by the tail, slowing him enough for the other dogs to launch an attack. It did not take long before they managed to pin him down. All the adult dogs piled in, killing him within a few minutes and despite the leopard’s energetic defense it did not manage to injure any of the dogs too badly.

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The plane was late so the guests waited nearby as they watched the suspicious dogs rushed up to the dead leopard periodically, growling at it and taking bites just to be sure it was dead.

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Red Dog Wrote:AWD Kills Impala

Canidae Wrote:From Neil Aldrige's interesting book 'Underdogs : The Fight to save South Africa's Wild Dogs', the 3 violent causes of mortality of the three successive lead males of the ill-fated Venetia Limpopo Pack.
"Simiarly, the sharp tusks of the hardy warthog have inflicted serious wounds in the defense against hunting wild dogs. It was a tusk through the lower jaw that lead to the death of the 11-year old alpha male of the Venetia Limpopo wild dog pack in 2006."

"This peaceful existance was short-lived however and the adults were soon forced to defend the pups during a fierce altercation with an oppurtunistic brown hyena. Disaster may have been prevented and the scavenger seen off but it was an ominous omen for what was to come. Ten long days later and Stellar's mate and five of her pups were dead. In the wake of the hyena clash, the pack was understandably unsettled and ran straight into a pride of lions in the south of the reserve. Although Stellar, Rory and Fender (another adult female) managed to flee with two of the litter, alpha male Budzatjie was killed defending his five offspring."
"Sadly, Stellar's luck was not about to change. Her preoccupation with finding a den site as inaccessible to lions as possible had led her pack right into a leopard's domain. Once again, it was her alpha mate who paid the ultimate price. Researchers searched for Abel for days on end. Finally, the knell of his mortality signal given off by his radio collar revealed the hilltop location of his ravaged body.

The necropsy carried out on Abel's body revealed multiple puncture wounds from the canines of his assailant. Bites to his hindquarters hinted to a suprise attack while the deep wounds inflicted on the throat told of the lethal, suffocating bite. Of all Abel's injuries, it was the clearer penetrations of his skull that eventually helped to betray the identity of the killer. Keeping their emotions checked by professionalism and responsibility, the team of researchers were able to measure the gauge of the puncture wounds in Abel's skull and match them against known dental measurements from other large carnivores. This evidence effectivley eliminated lions as possible suspects owing to their much larger jaws. That Abel's body was left otherwise intact also cast doubt on whether either brown or spotted hyenas could have been responsible. Brown hyenas had carried off and eaten Abel's Alpha forerunner Ringo but this was only after Ringo had been fatally injured hunting warthog. Brown hyenas were also known to shadow the movements of the pack but this behaviour was primarily to steal an easy meal from the more efficient wild dogs. Finally, taking into account the nature and location of the attack, it was possible to deduce that Abel had probably been killed by a leopard while resting with the pack up in the hills.

Jinfengopteryx Wrote:Abstract.
African wild dogs are 20-25 kg social carnivores whose major prey are ungulates ranging from 15to 200kg. In the SelousGame Reserve,Tanzania, wild dog pack sizeranged from three to 20 adults (3-44 including yearlings and pups). Data from 905 hunts and 404 kills showed that hunting successp, rey massand the probability of multiple kills increasedwith number of adults. Chase distance decreasedwith number of adults. None the less,the distribution of per capita food intake acrossadult packsizewas U-shaped, with a minimum closeto the modal pack size.A similar result hasbeenused to conclude that cooperative hunting does not favour sociality in lions (Packer et al. 1990, Am. Nat., 136, l-19), and to argue that cooperative hunting is not responsible for group living in any carnivore (Car0 1994, Cheetahs of the Serengeti Plains: Group Living in an Asocial Species). Daily per capita food intake only accounts for variation in the benefits to cooperative hunting, ignoring variation in costs. For Selouswild dogs, per capita food intake per km chasedpeaked closeto the modal adult pack size(where per capita food intake per day was near its minimum). Thus, the energetics of cooperative hunting favour sociality in Selouswild dogs. Analyses that incorporate variation in both costs and benefits of hunting may show that cooperative hunting favours sociality in other specieswhere its influence has previouslybeenrejected.


Canidae Wrote:Some interesting extracts from Richard Lydekker's 'The Game Animals of Africa'.

"The greatest enmity exists between domesticated dogs and these bush-pirates ; the presence of the latter seeming to incite the former to frantic rage , although I have never seen a dog able to cope single-handed with these strong-jawed creatures."

"Waterbuck and kudu are, however, not fighters like the sable antelope ; and the instance related by Mr. Selous of a bull of the latter being tackled by a single hunting-dog is probably unique."

Canidae Wrote:A.W.D's killing Eland cow :

While out with a film crew focusing on wild dog interactions and behaviour, nothing prepared us for the epic scene ahead. Shortly after locating the pack of fifteen dogs, the pups, hungry yet full of energy as always, convinced their elders to start hunting. It was an amazing experience to follow all the individuals through the bushveld after heavy rain had fallen, the smells were incredible. This was one of the first hunts that included the five new pups of the pack.  It only took one second for the whole pack to switch dramatically from what looked like first gear to fifth! Eland ahead! As we came around the thicket our eyes were drawn to the ground in front of us where a battle scene unfolded with a full grown but weak eland cow falling forcibly to the ground, being held at the throat by two dogs. The rest of the pack including the four month old pups joined in and attacked from the rump.  What a prize kill for this pack - especially the small pups who gained a lot of experience for their future from this hunt and kill. To date this is the largest recorded kill by the Erindi wild dog pack.

From :

Taipan Wrote:African Wild Dogs kill Leopard

RojJones Wrote:After reading Africa Geographic’s article about the wild dogs and a leopard at Limpopo-Lipadi I was reminded of the leopard that guests at Kwando Safaris’ Lagoon Camp saw killed by a pack of dogs when he ventured too near their den in the heat of the day. The guests were on their way to the airstrip and the wild dog den was en-route so the guide, Steve Kgwatalala, made a turn near the den. Occasionally some of the dogs would get up and glare into a bush nearby and growl before laying down again. Steve thought that their must be something in the bush, so they decided to wait a while to see if anything happened. Shortly thereafter a male dog leapt up, growling, and ran into the grass followed by several other dogs. A leopard had jumped out of the bush and they grabbed the fleeing leopard by the tail, slowing him enough for the other dogs to launch an attack. It did not take long before they managed to pin him down. All the adult dogs piled in, killing him within a few minutes and despite the leopard’s energetic defense it did not manage to injure any of the dogs too badly.

[Image: Dogs-Killing-Leopard-1JPG.jpeg]

The plane was late so the guests waited nearby as they watched the suspicious dogs rushed up to the dead leopard periodically, growling at it and taking bites just to be sure it was dead.

[Image: Dogs-killing-Leopard-2JPG.jpeg]
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Odor that smells like blood: Single component powerful trigger for large carnivores

Date: November 10, 2014
Source: Linköping University
People find the smell of blood unpleasant, but for predatory animals it means food. When behavioral researchers wanted to find out which substances of blood trigger behavioral reactions, they got some unexpected results.

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African wild dogs compete for a log impregnated with blood or a single component. Both were equally attractive.

People find the smell of blood unpleasant, but for predatory animals it means food. When behavioural researchers at Linköping University in Sweden wanted to find out which substances of blood trigger behavioural reactions, they got some unexpected results.
Matthias Laska is professor of zoology, specialising in the sense of smell. For some time his focus has been on scents that directly affect the behaviour of animals.
"For predators, food scents are particularly attractive, and much of this has to do with blood. We wanted to find out which chemical components create the scent of blood," he says.
The study, conducted at Kolmården Wildlife Park, found that for the animals, one particular component of blood odour was just as engaging as the blood odour itself.
"It's a completely new discovery that raises interesting questions on evolution," says Prof Laska.
The study has been published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.
When Prof Laska did a search for the contents of volatile substances in mammalian blood, he found nothing. Human blood has been analysed for disease markers, but we have very little information on the substances that give blood its characteristic scent.
A master's student was sent to Friedrich-Alexander-Universität in Erlangen Germany, to analyse mammalian blood with the help of gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, methods used for separating and identifying chemical compounds in a sample. The machine detected some 30 substances, of which some are decomposition products from fats. But the machine lost the job to the human scent experts who had also been engaged. They identified scents that the gas chromatograph missed completely.
One substance stood out: an aldehyde called trans-4,5-epoxy-(E)-2-decenal, which emits the typical metallic scent that humans associate with blood.
Once the researchers had identified a scent candidate that the predators should be attracted to, they wanted to test whether the predators were actually attracted to it in reality. So they designed a study to be conducted at Kolmården Wildlife Park, involving four predator species. How would the four predators -- Asian wild dogs, African wild dogs, South American bush dogs and Siberian tigers -- react when they caught a whiff of the scent?
Half-metre long wooden logs were impregnated with four different liquids: lab-produced aldehyde, horse blood, fruit essence, and a near-odourless solvent. The animals were exposed to one scent per day in their regular enclosure, while a group of students carefully observed their behaviour.
The results were unequivocal. The logs containing aldehyde were just as attractive stimuli as those containing blood, while the two other logs aroused little interest. The commonest behaviours were sniffing, licking, biting, pawing and toying. The tiger was the most persistent, while the South American bush dogs lost interest more quickly than the other species.
The study is the first to show that a single component can be just as attractive as the complex odour.
"How this has developed through evolution is an interesting question. Perhaps there is a common denominator for all mammalian blood," says Prof Laska.
He has plans for several follow-ups of the study, including how prey animals such as mice react to blood odour.
For the wildlife park, the study provided results that can be used in its daily operations. Animals in captivity require stimulation, so as not to deteriorate or become fat. The odourised logs can be a popular addition to the animal's environment.

Journal Reference:
Sara Nilsson, Johanna Sjöberg, Mats Amundin, Constanze Hartmann, Andrea Buettner, Matthias Laska. Behavioral Responses to Mammalian Blood Odor and a Blood Odor Component in Four Species of Large Carnivores. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (11): e112694 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112694

Only little is known about whether single volatile compounds are as efficient in eliciting behavioral responses in animals as the whole complex mixture of a behaviorally relevant odor. Recent studies analysing the composition of volatiles in mammalian blood, an important prey-associated odor stimulus for predators, found the odorant trans-4,5-epoxy-(E)-2-decenal to evoke a typical “metallic, blood-like” odor quality in humans. We therefore assessed the behavior of captive Asian wild dogs (Cuon alpinus), African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus), South American bush dogs (Speothos venaticus), and Siberian tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) when presented with wooden logs that were impregnated either with mammalian blood or with the blood odor component trans-4,5-epoxy-(E)-2-decenal, and compared it to their behavior towards a fruity odor (iso-pentyl acetate) and a near-odorless solvent (diethyl phthalate) as control. We found that all four species displayed significantly more interactions with the odorized wooden logs such as sniffing, licking, biting, pawing, and toying, when they were impregnated with the two prey-associated odors compared to the two non-prey-associated odors. Most importantly, no significant differences were found in the number of interactions with the wooden logs impregnated with mammalian blood and the blood odor component in any of the four species. Only one of the four species, the South American bush dogs, displayed a significant decrease in the number of interactions with the odorized logs across the five sessions performed per odor stimulus. Taken together, the results demonstrate that a single blood odor component can be as efficient in eliciting behavioral responses in large carnivores as the odor of real blood, suggesting that trans-4,5-epoxy-(E)-2-decenal may be perceived by predators as a “character impact compound” of mammalian blood odor. Further, the results suggest that odorized wooden logs are a suitable manner of environmental enrichment for captive carnivores.

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Hot dogs: Is climate change impacting populations of African wild dogs?

Date: July 20, 2017
Source: British Ecological Society (BES)

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A wild dog pictured in Kenya.
Credit: ZSL, Helen O'Neill

Climate change may be harming the future of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) by impacting the survival rates of pups, according to one of the first studies on how shifting temperatures are impacting tropical species.

Led by scientists from ZSL (Zoological Society of London) and published in the Journal of Animal Ecology, the study highlights how African wild dogs -- already classified as Endangered by the IUCN Red List -- raise fewer pups at high temperatures.

Three concurrent studies, undertaken by ZSL, the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust, and the African Wildlife Conservation Fund, monitored a total of 73 wild dog packs at sites in Kenya, Botswana and Zimbabwe, over a combined 42 years of study.

Tracking with high-tech collars showed that wild dog packs spent less time hunting on hot days. When packs tried to raise pups in hot weather, more of the pups died, potentially because they received less food from individuals returning from hunts.

At the Botswana site, temperatures increased steadily over 24 years of monitoring. The average daily maximum temperature during the pup-rearing period was roughly 1°C higher in the first 12 years of monitoring than in the second 12 years, and over the same period the average number of pups surviving per pack per year fell from five to three.

The study's lead author, Professor Rosie Woodroffe of ZSL's Institute of Zoology, said: "Our study shows the truly global impact of climate change. When most people think about wildlife in a changing climate, they think of polar bears clinging to melting ice, but even species who have adapted to tropical weather are being impacted by the changes to their environment.

"Worryingly, this new threat may be affecting wild dogs deep inside wildlife areas where we would expect them to be protected from human impacts. With habitat fragmented and destroyed in cooler areas, wild dogs have literally nowhere to go. Sadly, climate change may bring extinction a step closer for this amazing species.

"Now our team at ZSL is focused on identifying conservation actions which might reduce these climate impacts on wild dogs, and working out where they are most needed."

African wild dogs are one of the world's most endangered carnivores and their populations are in decline, with estimates suggesting that fewer than 700 packs currently remain in the wild.

Although considered one of the most successful predators on Earth due to the high kill-rate their cooperative hunting achieves, African wild dog populations are declining due to pressures including habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict.

Building on this study's findings, ZSL is conducting further research to explore whether and how climate change impacts on wild dogs might be mitigated. Find out more about ZSL's conservation efforts for African wild dogs at http://www. zsl. org/ cheetahandwilddog.

Story Source: British Ecological Society (BES). "Hot dogs: Is climate change impacting populations of African wild dogs?." ScienceDaily. (accessed July 22, 2017).

Journal Reference:
Rosie Woodroffe, Rosemary Groom, J. Weldon McNutt. Hot dogs: High ambient temperatures impact reproductive success in a tropical carnivore. Journal of Animal Ecology, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12719

Climate change imposes an urgent need to recognise and conserve the species likely to be worst affected. However, while ecologists have mostly explored indirect effects of rising ambient temperatures on temperate and polar species, physiologists have predicted direct impacts on tropical species.
The African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), a tropical species, exhibits few of the traits typically used to predict climate change vulnerability. Nevertheless, we predicted that wild dog populations might be sensitive to weather conditions, because the species shows strongly seasonal reproduction across most of its geographical range.
We explored associations between weather conditions, reproductive costs, and reproductive success, drawing on long-term wild dog monitoring data from sites in Botswana (20°S, 24 years), Kenya (0°N, 12 years), and Zimbabwe (20°S, 6 years).
High ambient temperatures were associated with reduced foraging time, especially during the energetically costly pup-rearing period. Across all three sites, packs which reared pups at high ambient temperatures produced fewer recruits than did those rearing pups in cooler weather; at the non-seasonal Kenya site such packs also had longer inter-birth intervals. Over time, rising ambient temperatures at the (longest-monitored) Botswana site coincided with falling wild dog recruitment.
Our findings suggest a direct impact of high ambient temperatures on African wild dog demography, indicating that this species, which is already globally endangered, may be highly vulnerable to climate change. This vulnerability would have been missed by simplistic trait-based assessments, highlighting the limitations of such assessments. Seasonal reproduction, which is less common at low latitudes than at higher latitudes, might be a useful indicator of climate change vulnerability among tropical species.;jsessionid=1BEB17403DDCE92EBD77A133580348BD.f04t02 
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Something to sneeze about: Democratic voting in African wild dog packs

Date: September 5, 2017
Source: University of New South Wales

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A pack of African wild dogs shares an impala.
Credit: Megan Claase

Scientists studying African wild dogs in Botswana have found members of this endangered species use sneezes to vote on when the pack will move off and start hunting.

The research, by an international team working at the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust, is published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Study senior author Dr Neil Jordan, a research fellow at UNSW Sydney and Taronga Conservation Society Australia, says African wild dogs exhibit highly energetic greeting ceremonies called social rallies after rests periods, before they move off together again.

"I wanted to better understand this collective behaviour, and noticed the dogs were sneezing while preparing to go," says Dr Jordan, of the UNSW Centre for Ecosystem Science.

"We recorded details of 68 social rallies from 5 African wild dog packs living in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, and couldn't quite believe it when our analyses confirmed our suspicions.

"The more sneezes that occurred, the more likely it was that the pack moved off and started hunting. The sneeze acts like a type of voting system," he says.

Study first author Reena Walker, of Brown University in the US, says they identified a further twist in the tale: "We found that when the dominant male and female were involved in the rally, the pack only had to sneeze a few times before they would move off.

"However, if the dominant pair were not engaged, more sneezes were needed -- approximately 10 -- before the pack would move off," she says.

Previously it had been thought that the dogs were simply clearing their airways when they sneezed.

Study co-author Dr Andrew King, of Swansea University in the UK, adds: "The sneezes act as a type of quorum, and the sneezes have to reach a certain threshold before the group changes activity.

"Quorums are also used by other social carnivores like meerkats, but our finding that the quorum number of sneezes changes, based on who's involved in the rally, indicates each dog's vote is not equal," says Dr King, who is head of Swansea University's SHOALgroup.

Story Source: University of New South Wales. "Something to sneeze about: Democratic voting in African wild dog packs." ScienceDaily. (accessed September 7, 2017).

Journal Reference:
Reena H. Walker, Andrew J. King, J. Weldon McNutt, Neil R. Jordan. Sneeze to leave: African wild dogs ( Lycaon pictus ) use variable quorum thresholds facilitated by sneezes in collective decisions. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2017; 284 (1862): 20170347 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.0347

In despotically driven animal societies, one or a few individuals tend to have a disproportionate influence on group decision-making and actions. However, global communication allows each group member to assess the relative strength of preferences for different options among their group-mates. Here, we investigate collective decisions by free-ranging African wild dog packs in Botswana. African wild dogs exhibit dominant-directed group living and take part in stereotyped social rallies: high energy greeting ceremonies that occur before collective movements. Not all rallies result in collective movements, for reasons that are not well understood. We show that the probability of rally success (i.e. group departure) is predicted by a minimum number of audible rapid nasal exhalations (sneezes), within the rally. Moreover, the number of sneezes needed for the group to depart (i.e. the quorum) was reduced whenever dominant individuals initiated rallies, suggesting that dominant participation increases the likelihood of a rally's success, but is not a prerequisite. As such, the ‘will of the group’ may override dominant preferences when the consensus of subordinates is sufficiently great. Our findings illustrate how specific behavioural mechanisms (here, sneezing) allow for negotiation (in effect, voting) that shapes decision-making in a wild, socially complex animal society.
Attached to this post:[Image: attach.png] Sneeze_to_leave__African_wild_dogs__Lycaon_pictus__use_variable_quorum_thresholds_facilitated_by_sneezes_in_collective_decisions.pdf (474.4 KB)
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Painted Wolves Caught on Camera Hunting Baboons for the First Time

By Kimberly Hickok, Reference Editor | February 7, 2019 11:12am ET

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The researchers suspected that the painted wolves changed their food preference because there are fewer circumstantial risks of going after a baboon versus an impala.

Most predators in the animal kingdom know better than to go after prey that could seriously hurt them, but Africa's painted wolves don't seem too concerned about that. This week's episode of BBC America's "Dynasties"presents the first documented instance of painted wolves hunting and eating baboons — a primate species that's well-known for retaliating violently against its predators.
Painted wolves, also called African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus), are the underdogs of African carnivores. They grow up to 30 inches (75 centimeters) tall at the shoulder and weigh up to 55 lbs. (25 kilograms). And as seen in this intense "Dynasties" clip, painted wolves are easily pushed around by their much larger elephant neighbors. (Although, almost all animals will run from an angry elephant.)
Despite their gorgeous markings, adorably goofy-looking ears and charismatic behavior, these wild canines are poorly understood and are one of the world's most endangered mammals. There are only around 6,600 painted wolves in the wild and their numbers are decreasing, according to the World Wildlife Fund. 
Although they're modest in stature, painted wolves are masterful hunters capable of taking down swift and agile antelope and impala that are about twice their size.
Anecdotal evidence suggested that painted wolves may hunt baboons, too, but only rarely. In general, baboons are an undesirable prey species for most predators because the primates are capable of inflicting serious injury or death, with their sharp, 2-inch-long (5 cm) canine teeth.
But as scientists and the "Dynasties" film crew found out, the painted wolves in Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe are different.
The researchers and film crew followed two packs of painted wolves for nearly two years and documented more than 170 prey kills — the vast majority of which were impalas and baboons. After about a year of observations, the researchers noticed that both packs began to show a preference for baboons over the larger and more rewarding impala.
For example, extensive elephant movement across the floodplain during the wet season leaves large, deep footprints in the mud that, once dried, become hazardous obstacles for the painted wolves to sprint over when chasing impala at full speed.
Also important to consider are several other African carnivores that enjoy having impala on their menu, and wouldn't mind adding a side dish of painted wolf. Within the Mana Pools National Park, there are resident lions, hyenas, leopards and cheetahs — all are bigger and stronger than the painted wolves.
Compared to impala, baboons are relatively slow runners, so painted wolves don't have to chase a baboon far before catching it. But that doesn't mean baboons should be considered easy prey — they definitely know how to defend themselves. Photos from the researchers who were working with BBC published in the journal Behaviour and others from nature photographer Nick Lyon published in National Geographic, show painted wolves with some gruesome baboon-battle injuries.
Baboon hunting in these two particular wolf packs likely started with the original alpha female of one of the packs, around a decade ago, the researchers wrote. Both of the painted wolf packs the researchers studied include descendants of the baboon-hunting female. There are five other painted wolf packs in Mana Pools National Park, and a safari guide has reported seeing one of those packs feed on a baboon. This suggests that hunting baboons is a learned behavior that may eventually disseminate to other packs. Watch this week's episode of "Dynasties" to see these baboon hunters in action.
Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, BBC America's "Dynasties" gives viewers an up-close-and-personal look into the family lives of five of the most celebrated and endangered animals on the planet. The fourth episode, "Painted Wolf," premieres Saturday (Feb. 9) on BBC America at 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. CST. Viewers can watch the first episode, "Lion," for free online.
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A large post on the packs of Mana Pools that have taken up baboon hunting, with a popular nat geo article and the specifics from a peer reviewed paper

Painted wolves, struggling to survive, find a new food: baboons
Amazing photos from a naturalist who's been tracking African wild dogs for years show the animals preying on primates, a scientific first.

Painted wolves are one of Africa’s most enigmatic creatures, little understood and heavily persecuted. To me they are by far the most endearing—even when they feed on primates.

With only 6,600 left in the world, these predators—also known as African wild dogs— have been hounded to the edge of extinction. For over a century they were considered vermin, and the hunting and killing has reduced their population to just one percent of its former size.
Since 2013, I have been tracking and photographing three packs of painted wolves alone, on foot, in Zimbabwe’s Zambezi Valley. I’ve got to know them well as I’ve watched them hunt, rest, and play.

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A pair of painted wolf pups play a macabre game of tag with the head of a baboon—the remains of their breakfast. This photo was "highly commended" in the 2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards.
Photograph by Nicholas Dyer

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Initially the baboons were surprised to find themselves being hunted by painted wolves. Now they are learning to fight back.

Right: Three painted wolves share the spoils of a morning’s baboon hunting.
Photograph by Nicholas Dyer

I became obsessed, reading every book and scientific paper on the animals, scientifically known as Lycaon pictus (from the Greek root for wolf, lykos, and the Latin for painting, pictus).

They have a reputation for being Africa’s most efficient predators, with a hunting success rate up to 80 percent, mainly preying on antelope such as impala and kudu. I thought I was becoming an expert until I witnessed something never yet documented: a grisly ambush of baboons.
There’s as yet no record in the scientific literature of wild dogs eating baboons, or another other primate.

The kill

I first saw this happen several years ago after photographing an alpha female named Blacktip and her pack of 25, which were playing boisterously by a waterhole.
As the group moved off to hunt, I decided not to follow in the growing darkness. My car was over a mile away and it is at night that lions become aggressive—no time to be out in the bush alone.
Suddenly I heard a group of panicked baboons running towards me, loud warning barks echoing into the dusky air. I darted through some bushes towards the commotion only to see a painted wolf close on the tail of a large male.
The painted wolf’s speed was astounding as he cut around the front of the baboon and sunk his teeth into its ear, thus causing immense pain and immobilising the creature, a typical hunting technique. Fractions of a second later, two other pack members grabbed different parts of the baboon and quite literally ripped it apart. It was gruesome to watch, but analysing my photographs afterward, I could see that the baboon’s ordeal lasted less than five seconds.

Left: As the baboons learn to defend themselves, the impact on the painted wolves becomes more apparent.
Right: Unlike our domestic dogs, the chief sense of a painted wolf is sound. When… Read More
Photograph by Nicholas Dyer
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Low down, straight-backed and focused, the painted wolves go into stealth mode as they close in on their prey.
Photograph by Nicholas Dyer

Compared to other apex predators, painted wolf kill their victim quickly, which seems more human. Other hunters like big cats can take an age to kill their prey.


A few months later I am sitting on a termite mound watching Blacktip’s puppies devour the remains of another freshly killed baboon as the adults protectively watch. These canines always let their young eat first.

Painted wolves are often attacked by hyenas who attempt to kill their pups and steal their prey. The wolves always mount an impressive defense, even though hyenas are much larger.
Photograph by Nicholas Dyer

I am with my good friend Peter Blinston, head of Painted Dog Conservation, who has dedicated the last 20 years of his life to following, understanding, and working to protect this highly-endangered animal. This new hunting behavior is a positive development for both the painted wolves and the ecosystem, he believes.
“For a start, it widens the painted wolves’ prey base, providing them more hunting options. It is not only good for the painted wolves, but takes the pressure off the impalas, which are their staple diet in this park,” he says.
Many ecologists have also expressed concerned about the area’s growing baboon population, he explains, which might have led to a decline in birds thanks to the primate’s nest-raiding tendencies. By potentially curbing baboons, the wolves could indirectly help the birds, he says.
“This new behavior might help restore some balance to the ecosystem.”

Fighting back

At first, the baboons looked paralysed in the face of this new foe—but more recently they have begun to adapt by changing their own behavior.
One morning, I experienced a ferocious counter-attack from the baboons. The whole troop joined in and I was amazed to see how effectively they could use their long incisors, charging the wolves while trying to bite them.
The wolves retreated after a male, called Patrick, sustained severe wounds to his neck and side. I was not sure if he would survive, but these wolves are tough—he pulled through after only a few days’ convalescence and nurturing from the rest of the pack who licked his wounds to keep them clean.

While playing, a painted wolf pup realises that her brother is growing up... and so are his teeth.
Painted wolves look after the sick and weak. Here, one shares a carcass with his wounded brother.
Photograph by Nicholas Dyer (Left) and Photograph by Nicholas Dyer (Right)
After about a month the painted wolf puppies’ ears transform from floppy flaps to their signature Mickey Mouse lugs. Photograph by Nicholas Dyer

While capturing a baboon may use less energy than running down an impala, it certainly has become an increasingly dangerous pursuit. Baboons haven’t killed any wolves yet, as far as I know, but they should be added to the list of suspects when one goes missing.

Often when wild dogs approach, baboons will rush down from the trees in which they shelter. Though it may seem nonsensical, a renowned guide named Henry Bandure told me he thinks it may be because they are used to being hunted by leopards, which can climb trees, and the alarm calls baboons use cannot yet distinguish the unique threat posed by painted wolves.

After-dinner games

While discussing this new phenomenon with Peter, a puppy picks up the baboon’s dismembered head. Others rush in and they begin playing tug-of-war.
The scene is quite macabre. As a fellow primate, I certainly feel more emotionally involved with the baboon’s fate than that of an impala—and yet I’m not sure whether to feel appalled or amused, as the puppies are clearly greatly enjoying the moment. (One photograph of this encounter was "highly commended" by the Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards, announced this week.)
There are those that might find this behavior cruel, but many of us eat meat too. Except for us humans, the grisly parts are often hidden, far from the supermarket aisles.
What we have been witnessing over the last few years is a gradual ‘evolution’ in the wolves’ behavior, coinciding with the baboon’s population boom. It’s fascinating to watch nature balancing itself, a process that’s still unfolding.
This is not evolution in the strictest Darwinian sense, as no genetic mutation has taken place. However, this may be an example of the ‘Baldwin effect’ where an animal’s ability to change established behaviors can improve the survival prospects of the species as these are learned and passed down.
The painted wolves struggle to survive in this world, following near-extermination at the hands of humans. They hang onto existence by a thin thread. To me, it is a crumb of comfort that nature has offered them a new food source, tilting something back in the struggling creature’s favor.
Link to the full article as not all of the pictures came through

Now onto the paper, where I have extracted what I believe to be the relevant parts but included the full link so members can read at leisure and access graphs and figures. The title is Dangerous game: preferential predation on baboons by African wild dogs in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe :

Other records of painted wolves eating baboons exist, but have not been directly observed

Baboon (Papio spp.) is a prey species which can inflict serious injury and mortality (Cowlishaw, 1994; Estes, 2004) and, where possible, Africa’s large carnivores usually avoid predation on baboons (Hayward & Kerly, 2005; Hayward, 2006; Hayward et al., 2006a, b). Baboons have occasionally been recorded as part of the African wild dog’s diet (Woodroffe et al., 2007; Mbizah et al., 2012), however, as far as we are aware, observations of hunts on this prey species have never been described (see also Cowlishaw, 1994; Hayward et al., 2006a). Although baboon lies within their preferred prey body mass range, African wild dogs seem to actively avoid predation on this dangerous prey species (Hayward et al., 2006a).

It should also be noted that avoidance in said papers refers to statistical avoidance over observations of the carnivores actually retreating from baboons. All of the large four African carnivores have been observed to kill an adult male baboon singly.

Painted wolves have fairly strict diets, with baboon and impala being the bulk of it and other sp. being buffalo and warthog

We recorded a total of 113 kills by pack I (2015 N=32, 2016 N=49, 2017 N=32) and 40 kills by pack II (2015 N=13, 2016 N=14, 2017 N=13). Both study packs predominantly preyed upon impalas and baboons. Pack I was recorded to kill impalas (N=67), baboons (N=45) and a buffalo calf (N=1), pack II to kill impalas (N=29), baboons (N=8) and subadult warthogs (N=3). Throughout the study period, the annual availability of baboons and impalas in the study area remained relatively stable (Table 1). Based on the Jacobs’ index calculated per study year, pack I less frequently killed impalas and more frequently killed baboons than expected based on availability (Figure 2a). Pack II predated on impalas relative to availability. Although the pack initially took fewer baboons than expected based on availability (2015), in later years (2016–2017) baboons became a preferred part of the diet (Figure 2b).

Painted wolves preferred adult female impala and had no baboon preference

The study packs more often predated on adult than subadult impalas (N=60, p<0.01) and took more female than male impalas (N=56, p<0.01). Where impala age and sex could be determined (N=60), adult females (61.7%) outnumbered adult males (21.7%), followed by juveniles (6.7%) and subadult males (5.0%) and females (5.0%). The study packs predated as often on adult as on subadult baboons (N=34, p=1.00), and did not take significantly more male than female baboons (N=10, p=0.75). Where baboon age and sex could be determined (N=9), five were adult males (Figure 3a), three were adult females and one was a subadult female (Figure 3b). Nine adults, 16 subadults and two juveniles were of unknown sex.

From the companion book to the BBC series 'Dynasties', the author of the painted wolf chapter suggested that as the wolves became more experienced they began to select for more profitable adult male baboons, although the statistics does not reflect this. Earlier preference for females or young baboons may have balanced this out.

"The advantage was that for some of the time it was safer to go for baboons than impala. A bite was less debilitating than to break a leg, and, with practice, the pack became so accomplished at hunting the animals that they targeted the large males, which meant more meat per hunt."
- Stephen Moss, BBC Dynasties.

Painted wolf pack size didn’t impact prey preference

During the study period, pack size (adults and subadults) varied considerably (Table A1 in the Appendix) with an overall average pack size of 16.0 ± 1.5 (mean ± SE) adults and subadults for pack I and 10.9 ± 0.4 (mean ± SE) adults and subadults for pack II. The point-biserial correlation confirmed there was no significant relationship between pack size and the number of impalas or baboons killed (r=−0.04, p=0.60).

To add to this, I cannot find much re: Mana Pools baboons specifically. (Hamilton 1985) found in his study population adult males were the most common demographic, but (Bulger and Hamilton 1987) found otherwise with adult females being so. The same paper found no. of adult males in the troop varied from 16 to 9 individuals with a mean of 13.8. So it is likely adult male baboons in the troops attacked were roughly on par with the number of adult painted wolves of any gender in the packs.
Baboons will defend each other and injured painted wolves

It is challenging to accurately assess frequency of injury from dangerous prey (Mukherjee & Heithaus, 2013) and our data on frequency of baboon related injuries are limited. However, we observed several cases in which baboons defended themselves, their young, or other troop members against African wild dog attacks (Figure 4) and baboon hunts did result in injury (Figure 5). Injury is an important foraging cost (Mukherjee & Heithaus, 2013) which predators take into account by avoiding prey which presents a high risk of injury or mortality (Hayward et al., 2006a, b). However, in this study, once included in the diet, the African wild dog study packs preferred to predate on baboons.

One suggestion was that the broken terrain made hunting slower baboons safer than impala

In addition, extensive elephant movement along the muddy floodplain of MPNP results in a rugged surface of hardened, dried out, elephant footprints in the dry season, herewith increasing the difficulty of high speed pursuits of impalas and the indirect risk of injury such pursuits present (Mukherjee & Heithaus, 2013).

Painted wolves did select for impala when pupping due to greater amount of meat

Baboon kills were less frequently made in the denning season when the need to feed the pups at the den can affect prey selection (Woodroffe et al., 2007). Body mass of adult impalas (adult male ca. 60 kg, adult female ca. 45 kg) is 2–3 times higher than body mass of adult baboons (adult male ca. 32 kg, adult female ca. 15.4 kg) of the same sex (Estes, 2004), a baboon kill is therefore less likely to feed the entire pack. Although African wild dogs generally consume 2–3 kg of meat per individual (Creel & Creel, 1995; Carbone et al., 2007), stomach capacity is ca. 9 kg (Creel & Creel, 1995). Consequently, predation on impalas maximizes food intake of the pack and herewith the quantity of meat which can be regurgitated for the pups upon return to the den.

Despite being smaller, baboons may be ultimately more profitable due to being easier to catch

In this study, baboons were always chased over short distances (<100 m) and, unlike impala hunts, baboon hunts would normally result in the pack outrunning and killing at least one individual in the troop before it found refuge. Such differences in hunting efficiency can outweigh a lower energy intake and enable African wild dogs to subsist on smaller prey species (Woodroffe et al., 2007).

Baboon hunting is seemingly a taught behaviour

As far as we are aware, this is the first study which describes preferential predation of African wild dogs on baboons (see also Cowlishaw, 1994; Hayward et al., 2006a). Hunting dangerous prey like baboons requires skills which vary among individuals (Jooste et al., 2013). Baboon hunting in MPNP is believed to have started with the original alpha female of pack I, which was first witnessed to hunt baboons about a decade ago (personal communication safari operators). Both study packs consist of offspring of this female. Although pack II initially avoided baboon predation, once seven dispersers of pack I joined the pack in December 2015, baboons became a preferred part of the diet. In addition to these two study packs, there are five known African wild dog packs in MPNP, only one of these other packs has ever been witnessed to predate on baboons (personal communication safari operators), this pack was formed mid 2017 and consists of four individuals of which two are dispersers from pack I. In accordance with Jooste et al. (2013), these observations suggest predation on baboons may be an individually acquired pattern of behaviour which disseminates through the MPNP African wild dog study packs via social learning (acquiring new behaviour by observing and imitating others, see Galef, 1976).

A caveat on spotted hyaena – painted wolf interactions

Direct observations (N=29) showed spotted hyenas were present at 20.7% of the kills (four impala kills, one baboon kill and a kill of a buffalo calf). However, losses to kleptoparasitism were little as spotted hyenas generally only arrived after the African wild dogs were close to finishing or had finished feeding from their kill.
Hyaenas also killed 5 pups, one from one pack and four from the other. This greater than the amount killed by lion (three) and leopard (two) and made them the largest known cause of mortality in Mana Pools (but many more died of unknown causes).
Link to the full paper
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