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African Wild Dog - Lycaon pictus
African Wild Dog - Lycaon pictus 

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Size: 30 inches at the shoulder 

Weight: 55 to 70 pounds 

Lifespan: 10 to 12 years 

Habitat: Dense forest to open plains 

Diet: Carnivorous/forager 

Gestation: 21/2 months 

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Physical Characteristics
The African wild dog, also called the hunting dog, is a vanishing species in East Africa. Field studies have shown that the wild dog is a highly intelligent and social animal. Like most predators, it plays an important role in eliminating sick and weak animals, thereby helping maintain a natural balance and ultimately improving prey species. The stereotype of the wild dog as a cruel butcher is slowly being replaced by a less harsh image. 

The African wild dog has a colorful, patchy coat, large bat-like ears and a bushy tail with a white tip that may serve as a flag to keep the pack in contact while hunting.

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African wild dogs live in packs of six to 20. The aggression exhibited towards prey is completely nonexistent between members of the pack and there is little intimidation among the social hierarchy. Their large range of vocalizations includes a short bark of alarm, a rallying howl and a bell-like contact call that can be heard over long distances. Elaborate greeting rituals are accompanied by twittering and whining. The entire pack is involved in the welfare of the pups, which are born in thick brush or in a den. 

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The hunting members of the pack return to the den where they regurgitate meat for the nursing female and pups. Although litters are very large, very few pups survive. Sometimes the dens are flooded, or the pups die from exposure or disease. When pack numbers are reduced, hunting is not as efficient and adults may not bring back sufficient food for the pups. The entire pack is involved in the welfare of the pups; both males and females babysit the young and provide food for them. 

Wild dogs prey on gazelles and other antelopes, warthogs, wildebeest calves, rats and birds. They have a peculiar, playful ceremony that initiates each hunt: they circulate among themselves, vocalizing and touching until they get excited. When prey is targeted, some of the dogs run close to the animal, while others follow behind, taking over when the leaders tire. They can run long distances at speeds up to 35 miles per hour. Of the large carnivores, wild dogs are probably the most efficient hunters—targeted prey rarely escapes. 

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Predators and Threats
Throughout Africa, wild dogs have been shot and poisoned by farmers, hunters and, at one time, by rangers. Even though protected in parks and reserves, wild dog populations are dangerously low. AWF works with community scouts and supports research that examines the factors that threaten wild dogs and explores ways to reduce these threats. 

Did You Know?
  • No two wild dogs are marked exactly the same, making it easy to identify different individuals. Why such a pattern should develop, and how it serves the hunting dog, has long intrigued scientists. 

  • Wild dogs are usually on the move over a very large range, covering for example, some 900 square miles in the Serengeti. After a litter is born, however, they will limit their travelling and hunting to areas closer to the den. 

African Wild Dog
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Diet Preferences

Wild dogs mostly hunt medium-sized antelope, with the preferred species varying according to the most abundant prey species in the area. The proportions of prey taken by wild dogs in various study sites across Africa include (Woodroffe et al. 1997): 
  • Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe: impala (60%), kudu (30%), reedbuck (2%). 

  • Kruger National Park, South Africa: impala (52%), kudu (12%), reedbuck (15%). 

  • Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya: Thompson's gazelle (67%), impala (17%), wildebeest (8%). 

  • Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana: impala (85%), kudu, lechwe; Namibia: reedbuck, wildebeest, roan, duiker. 

  • Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania: impala (69%), wildebeest (11%) reedbuck (3%), warthog (3%). 

  • Serengeti National Park, Tanzania: Thompson's gazelle (57%), wildebeest (40%), Grant's gazelle, zebra . 

  • Zambia: impala, reedbuck, hartebeest, oribi. 
Dominant species include (percentage of kills) (Schaller 1972): 
  • Kafue National Park (Zambia) - duiker (26%), reedbuck (25%) 

  • Kruger National Park (South Africa) - impala (87%) (total of 20 species) 

  • Serengeti (Tanzania) - Thomson's gazelle (42%), wildebeest (38%) (total of 12 species) 

Most prey species weigh between 20 - 90 kg (44 - 200 lb), but animals as small as cane rats (5 kg (11 lb)) and as large as greater kudu (about 310 kg (680 lb)) have been reported in the diet (Macdonald 1984).

Calculating a single consumption rate per ecosystem yields 2.0 - 2.5 kg/dog/day (4.4 - 5.5 lb/dog/day) in Selous, 2.3 kg/dog/day (5.1 lb/dog/day) in Serengeti, 3.5 kg/dog/day (7.7 lb/dog/day) in Kruger, and 4.7 kg/dog/day (10.3 lb/dog/day) in Aitong (Creel & Creel 1998).

Wild dogs also readily scavenge meat. 

Wild dogs eating an impala
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Causes of adult mortality recorded in wild dog populations in Kruger National Park, South Africa; Moremi Game Reserve and surrounding areas, Botswana; Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe; Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania; and various parts of Zambia (mostly Kafue National Park) [See reference for data on individual locations] (Woodroffe & Ginsberg 1999): 
  • Natural causes (39%): Lion predation - 12%, hyena predation - 4%, other predation - 5%, other wild dogs - 5%, disease - 8%, accident - 6% 

  • Human causes (61%): Road kill - 24%, snared - 10 %, shot - 15%, poisoned - 12%, other - 1% 
Causes of pup mortality recorded in wild dog populations in Kruger National Park, South Africa; Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe; and Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania [See reference for data on individual locations] (Woodroffe & Ginsberg 1999):
  • Natural causes (80%): Lion predation - 31%, hyena predation - 6%, other wild dogs - 34%, disease - 8% 

  • Human causes (20%): Road kill - 12%, snared - 8 % 

Source - Animal Info - Wild Dog
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Hunting Success Rate

In Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, overall hunting success for a pack of 12-29 wild dogs was 51% (Fuller and Kat, 1993). In the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, 9-15 wild dogs were observed to have a success rate of 31.6-35.8% when hunting adult gazelles (Fanshawe and Fitzgibbon, 1993). In another study in Tanzania, Creel and Creel (1995) found a 45% success rate in packs consisting of three to 44 wild dogs. Many other studies have shown success rates ranging from 39-85%. In almost all studies, gazelle and impala were chosen more by wild dogs, and produced better success rates, than other prey. This information, however, gives little insight as to an exact number of wild dogs that will maximize their food intake. Fanshawe and Fitzgibbon (1993) as well as others, noted that the entire pack does not always participate in the hunt. They found that the number of hunters depended on the type and age of prey. One to two wild dogs would hunt young gazelle while numerous dogs would hunt adult prey. The only significant difference they found between group sizes was that groups of four had a 73% success rate while single hunters and numerous hunters averaged 23.5%. This does not support the commonly held belief that as group size increases, hunting success increases. Other studies also challenged this belief. Fuller and Kat (1993) found that prey abundance was related to success and pack size was not. Yet, Creel and Creel (1995) continued to support the hypothesis that an increase in group size seems to have an effect on hunting success. They found a 42% success rate in packs of three adults and an increase in success to 67% in packs of 20 adults. They found these larger packs not only killed more, but killed heavier prey and chased the prey shorter distances. 

In most studies, prey size and prey abundance were taken into consideration as major influences on optimal group size. Creel and Creel (1995) found Impala, a very common species in Tanzania, were hunted the most, killed the most, provided a 64% success rate, and yielded 20.4 kg/hunt. Of all species hunted, wildebeest provided the greatest mass/hunt: 35.2 kg/hunt. Fanshawe and Fitzgibbon (1993) found gazelle to be the most popular prey. Success rate exceeded 90% when wild dogs hunted young fawns and a rate of 31.6-35.8% when hunting adult gazelles. They also estimated 18kg of meat/gazelle hunted. Again, small abundant ungulates were hunted more in Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Fuller and Kat (1993) calculated 75-100% of young gazelles hunted were captured while adult gazelles yielded a 49-66% success rate. They also found that as prey density increased, pack size increased. However, prey type did not seem to be affected by fluctuations in the pack size. Other research done with lions found that as prey biomass increased, lion group size increased (Caraco and Wolf, 1975). Studies in Tanzania on lions found that during seasons of prey abundance no difference was documented on success of female lions. However, in times of prey scarcity, there did seem to be a shift in group size. Groups of two to four females had the lowest payoff of prey consumption. This data does not seem to clarify the effects prey size and abundance have on pack size. There must be other important environmental factors influencing pack size. 

'Feeding Frenzy'
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Competition with other predators
Since it does not seem likely that wild dogs use dense vegetation to hide their kills from other competitors, some other technique must be used to ward off lions and hyenas. Fuller and Kat (1993) found hyenas at 41% of all wild dog kills. Fanshawe and Fitzgibbon (1993) also found hyenas at a large percentage of kills by wild dogs. Groups of more than four hyenas had a significant effect on how long wild dogs would remain at the kill site. One to 18 hyenas were spotted at virtually all kills. They found that hyenas were quite capable of stealing the prey item before the wild dogs were finished consuming it if the prey item was large. Small prey were consumed before hyenas arrived at the kill. Particularly in the Serengeti in Africa, hyenas have been increasing in number in the past few decades. These hyenas may be an important reason for wild dogs to maintain larger packs. If prey supply is low and wild dog packs are small, interspecific competition could cause a decrease in the amount of food these wild dogs can maintain. Similar evidence was found with hyenas scavenging kills by lions (Caraco and Wolf, 1975). They found that if less than four lions remained at a kill, 10% of the meat on average was scavenged by hyenas. Hyenas are not always abundant in wild dog territory, so in some cases it is difficult to assess the impact of these competitors. Occasional competition also came from lions in Tanzania. In all encounters with lions, all of the kills were lost. Creel and Creel (1995) also documented scavenging by wild dogs and found only 10 instances of wild dogs stealing carcasses. Three times, leopards were chased in order to gain kills, one kill was taken from a lion, four kills were obtained from hyenas, and the other two kills were obtained from unidentified sources. The data from Tanzania reflects that interspecific competition may balance out between species since both wild dogs and hyenas scavenge off of each other. Interspecific competition may play a role in group size of wild dogs, but perhaps only in certain areas where scavenging by competitors is significantly high or in areas where there is an abundance of competing species such as lions or hyenas. 

Source - Influences on Group Size and Population Decline
in African Wild Dogs
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"Distribution, Feeding Ecology and Conservation of the AFRICAN WILD DOG (Lycaon pictus) in Northern Cameroon" 

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From reddhole:
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African Wild Dog Prey Preferences

reddhole Wrote:
African Wild Dog

Here is the study:

Here is the abstract:

Valuable conservation research on the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) has identified that its current endangerment is primarily due to human persecution, although habitat alteration, interference competition with other large predators, and disease also are factors. Numerous studies have thus determined what should be avoided to sustain an African wild dog population, yet in this study we identify what is needed to conserve a wild dog population by using Jacobs’ index to determine its preferred prey species. Twenty-four assessments of wild dog prey preference were calculated from 18 studies involving 4,874 kills of 45 species from throughout its distributional range. Wild dogs prefer prey within a bimodal body mass range of 16–32 kg and 120–140 kg, which is abundant and less likely to cause injury when hunted. This bimodal range follows that of optimal wild dog pack sizes based on energetic costs and benefits. Greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) and Thomson’s gazelle (Gazella thomsonii) are killed
by wild dogs wherever they coexist and are significantly preferred. Impala (Aepyceros melampus) and bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus) also are significantly preferred.
Our results allow wildlife managers to more accurately assess the survival chances of reintroduced or small wild dog populations by determining if sufficient preferred prey are available. These techniques are applicable to all adequately studied large predators.

Here are the details on the specific prey species. Species with a + or - next to them have enough data to be "statistically significant."

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The Power of Ten 

Packs of African wild dogs run down impalas and other fleet-footed prey for a living. But that lifestyle is energetically precarious: running takes a lot of work, and food must be divvied among pack members. Moreover, small stomachs, an adaptation to running, mean the dogs must sometimes abandon their leftovers. What pack size lets wild dogs maximize their hard-won calories?

The magic number is ten, according to a study by Gregory S.A. Rasmussen, of the University of Oxford, and three colleagues. From 1994 through 2002, Rasmussen tracked twenty-two wild-dog packs in and around Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, monitoring their activity level, the distance of their chases, their hunting success, and the size of their prey. From those data, the team calculated that packs ten strong posted the greatest caloric intake per dog. Any other number, and the calories dropped; in packs smaller than five, they plummeted.

The team also found that smaller packs breed fewer pups. They posit that in packs of four or fewer wild dogs, lack of food limits the number of offspring, further reducing pack size—a downward spiral toward oblivion. Most packs at the study site numbered just six, too close to that limit for comfort, particularly given that the species is endangered. The team says populations with small packs should get priority in conservation measures, such as the introduction of new members or special protection from hunters. (The American Naturalist)
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Wild Dog Pack takes Cheetahs kill

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Reddhole Wrote:Below is an account of several AWDs attacking an adult female leopard. The leopard killed an AWD pup the night before and the AWDs attacked the leopard during the morning after. It is hard to tell how many dogs were involved, but it doesn't look like more than 3 dogs.

Better views of the pictures are available by clicking the pictures at the link below.


02/11/10: Wild Dogs almost killing a Leopard

I will probably never see anything this amazing in my life again. This was by far THE BEST sighting I have ever had.

This morning we decided to get up earlier and follow up on a tip that the Wild Dogs might be heading to the south eastern corner of the reserve.

We got into the area and started looking for them, with no idea of what will be unfolding in the next couple of minutes.

It all started off so calm and peaceful with the Wild Dogs and the puppies feeding of what looked like a day old Kudu kill.

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Then all of the sudden the Dogs just got up an run. We tried to stay with them and we found them all standing under a Camel Thorn Tree. When we moved closer a female Leopard jumped out and made a run for it. The Dogs cought her and was biting and pulling on whatever piece off Leopard they could get hold off. My hart sank into my stomach.

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She eventually managed too escape and run up a bigger tree. The Wild Dogs then left her and went back to the three where they found her. We went too have a look at what they were doing just too discover that the Leopard killed a Wild Dog pup doring the night and was feeding on it. Now we knew that the Wild Dogs had the right to try and take revenge. Ther are now four pups left in this group off doggs.

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Reddhole Wrote:5 AWDs  tree a large adult male leopard. The AWDs unsuccessfully attack a zebra stallion and a herd of impala.


Since the release of the wild dogs on May 1, 2010 we have been tracking the wild dog pack every day. On average they have been traversing within a 5km circumference of the boma. They investigated different den sites and eventually settled on a burrow with lots of shade to keep the young dogs and pregnant females cool during the hot hours of the day.

On the morning of May 5 we were tracking the wild dog pack while they were on a hunt, making sure that we were far enough behind them not to interfere with the hunt. How bold the pack was to first try a herd of zebra - and not only a young one, but a full grown stallion! We sat very still under a bush listening to the zebra in a panic and wild dogs in the excitement of a possible kill. When all was silent, the tracks showed that the stallion fell and the dogs were upon him, but he quickly got up and escaped. Shortly after this attempt, a herd of impala was next and then again another herd of impala was pursued. Unfortunately, they were all unsuccessful, but at least our wild dog pack was trying to make a kill.

The next morning we were tracking south of the boma, when suddenly ahead of us was a commotion of impala and wild dog chattering. We stopped and waited. When all was quiet, I had Base and Norman stay while Banda and I walked slowly forward. We passed a large dead tree and then we started to see the dogs through the dense bush. We eventually saw all five but no kill and so we presumed the hunt was not successful. The wild dog pack seemed very agitated but we did not think much of it at the time. Banda whistled for the two men to come up to us. They arrived shaking their heads… in all of the anticipation of seeing the dogs at their first kill, Banda and I had walked under this dead tree without looking up.

The wild dogs had chased a large male leopard up this very same tree that we walked under! We all now watched this great predator at the top of the tree, looking slightly uncomfortable being so out in the open. Ten minutes later, he began to shift his body, turning head first down the tree, then he suddenly let out an earth shattering ferocious roar as he came down the tree and ran quickly off into the bush.

In awe we were silent and then all broke out into a nervous chatter of what just happened. Upon searching the tracks for an answer, it was difficult to see one. A possible scenario was that both the leopard and pack of dogs were stalking the same herd of impala and once the leopard was spotted, all of the wild dogs joined in to chase this potentially dangerous threat from their newly acquired territory. Up the tree the leopard had gone with wild dogs hot on his tail. This would have been the females’ first encounter with a leopard, but for the males I am sure they have seen many in the past. Well done to our new wild dog pack! I am sure that this leopard will not dare to venture back into this same area again. 
What a morning! We left the dogs in peace as we walked cautiously back to the vehicle.
Reddhole Wrote:AWD - Leopard interactions:

3 AWDs chase male leopard, nip at it, and tree the leopard.

Wild Dogs - Leopard encounter
Published by Wildcasteron August 25, 2006

It was an exciting morning not only for us but also for the alpha pups and possibly the adults too.

The adults and alpha pups had left the den before dawn heading west. This time the alpha pups were really going hunting. Although they probably thought the outing was just another joy-ride.

We picked them up all milling around to the south east of Formadhunga, but 2 adults had bloodstained faces and huge bellies. The alpha pups were begging frantically from them but the adults weren’t about to give up their meals. Then suddenly they headed west into a ravine. There we found the alpha pups feeding on intestines from a fresh kill while the adults milled around. The grass in the area was stained red with blood.

Then to our surprise, right there in a huge Diospyros mespilliformis was a leopard feeding on the remains of an impala kill. The leopard was oblivious to our presence as it fed, its head obscured by the huge tree trunk. Suddenly when I started the vehicle to move around in order to see the leopard it was surprised and bolted out the tree with the adult dogs in hot pursuit. We didn’t see it again but heard it’s vicious growl in defence as the dogs probably caught up to it and nipped it before it was able to get up a tree.

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The pups on hearing this growl in the distance took off terrified until the adults caught up with them.

This was the first kill they had been to and here they had to deal with an adult male leopard. With this all being new to them they probably thought it was the norm - leopards always get hand-outs from the dogs.

I think what had happened in this situation was the 3 adults (BB wasn’t there when we got there, but she was back at the den well fed) had killed the impala and fed well. The leopard had heard the kill and waited in the wings while the dogs fed.

Well fed the dogs moved off to locate the rest of the pack. At this time BB probably headed home to feed her pups. The rest of the pack joined up and were led back to the kill. In the meantime the leopard had annexed the kill and taken into the safety of the tree, well out of the reach of the dogs. Of course you can imagine how hacked off the dogs must have been.

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Realising they had been outdone and cheated the dogs took off back home.
When we returned to the kill in the tree a few hours later, the leopard wasn’t there, although the kill had been fed and at the base of the tree a hyaena was hanging around waiting.

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Back at the den, even though only 3 adults had fed, the pups were all well on their way to bursting out of their own skins. Presumably the adults had a successful hunt last night too.

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But maybe just not enough for the adults as they headed off hunting again at dusk. The alpha pups followed but were soon distracted close to the den. The small herd of zebra they had attempted to stalk a few nights ago were again grazing in the area. 

The pups resumed where they had taken off, approaching the stallion. He really wasn’t phased with these lightweights nor were the rest of the herd as they continued to graze happily. The pups milled around them for a while and getting no response moved on back to the den.

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The decoy worked really well for the adults as they were able to go hunting in peace. No alpha pups to slow them down or botch things up.
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Red Dog Wrote:Three adult AWDs tree "fearless" young male leopard:

We are watching every development with our new pack of wild dogs with bated breath, as it seems they may be on the verge of establishing themselves in this area again. Perhaps this may be the start of a return to the dog days of the late 1990s when wild dogs were one of the most visible predators at Mombo. The three adults we have been seeing all year had three puppies which began accompanying them on their hunts, although during this month one of the half-grown puppies has disappeared.
Despite this tragedy, and their reduction in strength, these champion survivors have clung onto their foothold at Mombo undaunted, and we have had some fantastic sightings of the pack this month. One of the best was actually from the deck of Camp, late one afternoon when they came trotting across the floodplain, their multi-coloured coats striking fear into the hearts of the antelope, and their brilliant white tail tips streaming out behind them in the rosy evening light. One of those African moments that remains with you always.

The wild dogs too have had to dispute with leopards over kills on at least one occasion, and even our fearless young Far Eastern Pan Male, was obliged to jump into a tree to escape the snapping jaws of the indignant dogs. Nearby, a much larger leopard in a Jackalberry watched the incident with perhaps a measure of interest - this was the young male's father, the wily old Burnt Ebony Male.
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Reddhole Wrote:Another account of a group of AWDs treeing both a male and female leopard and stealing their kill. Not sure of the pack size, but picture on link only shows 3 dogs.

This female leopard was chased up this tree by wild dogs. The dogs also chased her boyfriend up another tree and stole their dinner.

And another account with pictures:

Chitabe Lediba September 2008 with Newman.

We left camp at first light and about 10 minutes into the drive spotted a dog charging through some water infront of us from left to right followed by the rest of the pack. The pack headed straight towards a tree where there were 2 leopards mating - one leopard ran off and then the dogs chased the other one up the tree. 

We spent the next 20 minutes watching the interaction with the leopard having a couple of goes at getting away and ending back up the tree. The dogs then started to get nervous and we saw a lioness running towards the pack so they made a quick exit. The lioness then tried to work out what all the trouble was about and eventually spotted the leopard still up the tree. She settled down under the tree keeping a close watch on the leopard but like all lions eventually got bored and started to snooze at which point the leopard shot down from the tree and escaped safely into the bushes.

Not a bad start to the day!

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Reddhole Wrote:
Below is a description of a one on one fight between two adult female AWDs from the same pack. 

Notice how both AWDs went right for the throat and attempted to secure a firm "death grip" on the other. Also, both dogs put their paws on the other AWD's shoulders and used forelimbs for leverage in the fight. Both dogs drew blood from bite holds to the neck and damaged the other dog's ears. The winning AWD, "Juno", severely injured the other with a throat hold drawing significant amounts of blood causing the losing dog, "Black Angel", to collapse causing the authors to believe Black Angel died. Juno only stopped the attack when Black Angel submitted. IMHO Juno would have killed Black Angel if Black Angel did not submit. 

The fighting style is virtually identical to fighting dogs and really shows fighting dogs do not fight in a fundamentally different way than wild canids. The difference is that APBTs more reliably fight as opposed to posture and have evolved certain fighting specializations due to selective breeding.

Source: Jane Goodall and Hugo Van Lawick, "Innocent Killers"

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Below is a picture of two adult AWDs "play fighting" which the author describes as being similar to the actual fight. The fact the AWDs frequently play fight would indicate IMHO that one on one fighting is, or at least the capability, is quite important to AWDs.

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Below is another attack occurring before the fight above. Notice the severity of the attack with neck biting and lots of blood being drawn.

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Below is a study of AWD predation on zebra from the Serengeti from the 1970s. The researchers followed a number of AWD packs and documented their hunting behavior. Certain AWD packs specialized in hunting zebra. AWDs targeted zebra harems and adult females were primarily killed. Pack size did not play a significant role as groups as small as 3 AWDs killed zebra. AWDs also killed 2 adult warthogs. The upper lip of zebra and warthog was generally grabbed by an experienced dog which controlled the ungulate. Hunting success was 50% on zebra. Most zebra were killed within around 5 and half minutes once the animal was caught after the chase.

Source: Malcolm and Van Lawick, "Notes on Wild Dogs (Lycaon Pictus) Hunting Zebras", Mammalia, 39: No. 2, 1975

AWD Pack Composition - 2-10 Adults

The AWD packs listed below had 2 to 26 members. However, no pack had more than 10 adults which were the individuals participating in attacks on zebra. Thus, zebra attacks did not involve more than 10 AWDs activiely participating.

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Zebra Make Up a Significant Portion of All Packs Kills

The following chart lists the prey killed by all of the studied AWD packs. Zebra were the third most common ungulate killed by all packs. Adult zebra was the most common adult ungulate killed. 22 adult zebras were killed with 12 of those being specifically identified as females. In addition two adult warthogs were killed.

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Adult zebra made up 55% of all AWD kills on a biomass basis. Biomass is generally more important to the survival of an animal as it represents the food that sustains them (minus any loss to scavengers). The chart data below was computed using various weight estimates from studies in area, where available, and weight estimates found on web.

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Groups as Small as 3 AWDs Killed Adult Zebra

The following excerpt explains how large groups of AWDs are not necessary to kill zebra. On 7 occassions the Genghis Pack of 8 adults split up to kill zebra. In one instance 3 AWDs killed a zebra and in 3 cases the 8 adults killed two zebra simultaneously (which would require 8 adults to be split in two groups). The authors also note how the pups played no significant role in most hunts.

AWDs in east Africa are significantly smaller than southern African populations. AWDs in the Serengeti weighed around 20 kg which would would mean adult female zebra were more than 10 times the size of individual dogs and nearly 4 times the size of a group of 3 AWDs.

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Certain Packs Preferred Hunting Zebra Over Other Prey

The authors explains how some packs, such as the Genghis pack, specialized in hunting zebra. These packs attacked zebra when thomson's gazelle were also present.

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Male Zebra Bachelor Groups Had Much Larger Flight Distances Possibly Explaining Higher Predation on Adult Females

The following excerpt explains how adult bachelor groups of zebra ran away from AWDs from greater distances than harems. Since harems mostly consist of adult females and young, this may explain why adult female zebra were targeted more frequently than adult male zebra.

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AWDs Chased Herds at Moderate Speeds and Had a 50% Hunting Success Rate

The authors describe AWD hunts of zebra. AWDs chased zebra at moderate speeds until one zebra lagged behind group. 50% of chases were successful (mostly adult zebra were killed).

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AWD Attack Zebra in Violent Encounters

The authors describe how a zebra is attacked at end of a chase. One dog grabs the tail of zebra and may be dragged up to 200 meters. The other dogs then catch up and attack the rear. The zebra kicks violently with its rear legs and attempts to bite the dogs. The dogs sometimes get hit by solid kicks, but are apparently unhurt by these blows.

One dog often grabs the zebra lip to stop the zebra from biting and to control the zebra. This was generally only one of two dogs, which were presumably dominant dogs or experienced hunters. After the lip hold was secured, the zebra stopped struggling. The total kill time once a zebra was attacked at end of chase averaged about 5 and half minutes.

Also note, how one dog grabbed the lip of both adult warthogs killed.

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AWDs Kill Zebra in Smaller Packs, Take a Greater Perecentage of Adults, and Attack More in Daylight Than Spotted Hyenas

The author compares AWD predation on zebra to spotted hyenas. Despite being less than half the size of spotted hyenas, AWDs hunt zebra in smaller packs, kill a greater percentage of adults, and hunt more in daylight.

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AWDs Hunting Zebra Photo

Photo from the book, Innocent Killers by Jane Goodall and Hugo Van Lawick.

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The study mentions 11 additional killed documented by George Schaller in his book. "The Serengeti Lion." I don't have the book, but found the composition of the zebra kills from google books:

1 adult male zebra
6 adult female zebra
1 unsexed adult
3 < 6 month old zebra foals

Schaller also mentions one pack having a "predilection" for hunting zebra ignoring gazelle they passed when searching for zebra to hunt.

Schaller also mentions the following warthog kills:

2 adult male warthogs
1 adult female warthog
3 yearling warthogs

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Red Dog Wrote:AWDs have remarkable stamina and do engage in very long chases, but AWDS also can kill prey over short distances as well. The length of AWD chases from documentaries, which usually take place in more open areas, generally are longer than chases in areas with more cover.

Here is some AWD hunting data from the Selous Game Game Reserve in Tanzania.

Source: Creel and Creel, Animal Behavior, 1995, 50, P 1325-1339

Chase Distance Not Always Long

Below is a chart of chase distances of packs ranging in size from 4-20. Each open square represents an observation and the dark line represents the trend line (i.e. chase distances for groups smaller than 4 dogs is an estimate).

Large groups typically killed prey in chases of around 500 meters while smaller groups usually killed prey in chases around 1 KM (~.40 miles). Note that large groups of AWDs often have multiple dogs chasing different prey, which increases the chance of a shorter chase as well as greater hunting success.

Also, you can see that even small packs often killed prey in chases of less than 500 meters.

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Hunting Success Very High for All Groups

As you can see in the chart below, hunting success averaged from ~ 40% for small groups to ~ 70% for larger groups. 

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Mass of Kills Not That Small

The average mass of kills averaged from 20 KG for small groups to 50 KG for large groups. This is similar to the average size of prey taken by leopards in many areas. Some small packs killed much larger prey as well, which makes sense as a single AWD has been recorded killing an ~ 400 lb. adult female greater kudu.

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Here is some data from Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe:

Source: Rassmussen, The American Naturalist, "Achilles’ Heel of Sociality Revealed by Energetic
Poverty Trap in Cursorial Hunters", Vol. 172, No. 4  October 2008

Below you can see chase distance and hunting success data. Average chase distances ranged from just under 1 KM (.40 miles) for small groups to 400 meters for large groups.

The hunting success is based off of "hunting periods" (usually a couple of hours) instead of actual hunts, which means that the dogs could have multiple hunts during each period (i.e. hunting success is likely inflated). However, the AWDs great stamina allows them to engage in many more hunts than many other species. 

Small groups had a 70% chance of making a kill during a hunting period while large groups were nearly 100% successful in making a kill during a hunting period.

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The study concludes that AWDs live in groups because AWDS burn a lot of calories and have a very small stomach capacity (i.e. small groups can consume a small portion of their kills relative to other predators). As a result, larger packs (up to around 10-15 animals), which generally kill larger prey and expend less energy in getting it are more likely to survive and breed.  Competition from lions and hyenas also plays a role as well.

The key finding in terms of AVA is that small groups of AWD can and do kill prey with high success.
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Canidae Wrote:Will be looking forward to that?

Anyway, my scanner died, so here is some info and quotes on A.W.D aggression, both intra and inter-pack, enough for you to get the knowledge I think.

From : The African Wild Dog - Behaviour, Ecology and Conservation by Scott and Nancy Marusha Creel


Direct encounters between packs were rare, but they were more common than Mills & Gorman (1997) observed in Kruger National Park, where wild dog density was lower. Wild dogs show considerable interest in the scent-marks of other packs, sniffing them repeatedly, defecating and urinating over them, and sometimes tracking the scent trail for kilometres. Small packs occaisionally heard or smelled a neighboring pack nearby and quickly moved off to avoid a direct encounter. Large packs generally followed the scents or sounds of other packs, apparentley seeking a direct encounter.
We observed 13 direct encounters between packs during 518 observations days, or 1 encounter per 40 days (nine encounters per year). If two packs clearly saw one another, a chase or fight always ensued. In 11 of 13 cases, the larger pack pursued or attacked the smaller pack, which fled. The remaining two cases involved a pair of equal-sized packs that met twice in four days; each pack fled once. Behaviour during interpack encounters was aggressive, with most aggression directed at dogs of the same sex. For example, two attacking females once ran right past five males of a neighboring pack (to whom they were related and familiar) in pursuit of the pack's alpha female, and the males did not interfere.
During clashes, both packs (particularly the retreating pack) made a warning alarm bark that we never heard in other circumstances. Fights causing injury occured in 5 of the 13 clashes. We saw serious bite wounds from encounters with other packs on seven females and no males, suggesting that interpack aggression among females may be more serious than aggression among males (X squared = 7.0, P=0.008). Two fights led to fatalities. An adult female was bitten deeply in the hindlegs and soon died because she could not stay with her pack. In the second case, two packs of nine adults clashed. One pack had eight pups (six months old), the other pack had no pups. Five pups and their mother dissapeared during the chase. The mother and three of the missing pups were never seen again, but two of the missing pups rejoined the pack two days after the class.
In the following section : TWO CASE STUDIES OF INTERPACK ENCOUNTERS, when fighting breaks out the pack is described the split apart to do so, with some fleeing and other fighting. The female that died suffered the following injuries was a lead female, likely killed by another lead or high ranking female "One of her hindlegs was torn at the knee fascia and could not bear weight. She was cut to the bone in two places (six to eight inches long) on the other hindleg."
It also shows a picture of the wounded female unable to stand properly and with other severe bodily wounds, who died quickly after.
The mother with pups was likely a lead female too and presumably was killed by another high ranking or lead female.
On intrapack aggression, it was relatively minor, but 'higher and more variable' for males than females in breeding seasons. But "In a typical mating period, several males suffered bite wounds to the face and neck'. In non-mating concepts escalating fights were rare. (e.g we never oberved injuries in contests over food.)"


Here is an incident from tourism :

A Costly Clash between Packs

02 Nov 2011        
Sighting: A Costly Clash between Packs
Location: Savuti Camp, Linyanti Concession, Botswana
Date: October 2011
Observer: Grant Atkinson
Photographer: Grant Atkinson

There are two packs of wild dogs that make use of the area around DumaTau and Savuti Camp. One is called the Zibadianja Pack (named after the local name for a large lagoon that forms the source of the Savute Channel). The other is known as the Linyanti Pack. Both packs denned successfully during the 2011 season, with the Zib Pack bringing 13 pups out of a den near Selinda Camp, far to the west, and the Linyanti Pack emerging slightly earlier from their den (east of DumaTau) with 10 pups.  

This is always a period that we watch with interest in order to measure the levels of mortality in the vulnerable young pups. The Linyanti Pack lost one pup soon after moving away from the den in early August, leaving nine healthy youngsters for the pack to look after. The Zib Pack also lost a single pup by the time they left the den, leaving 12 youngsters remaining.

After this post-denning period, both packs moved towards the productive hunting grounds of the Savute Channel in the Linyanti Concession. Wild dog packs are territorial, and defend their hunting territories fiercely against other dog packs. The Savute Channel, at a depth deep enough to deter crossing especially with young pups, lay between the two packs though, and by September both packs were hunting along the length of the channel, on opposite sides. It was during this month however that two dogs from the Linyanti Pack, including the alpha female, disappeared. The cause of the disappearance was unknown to us, but as her pups had finished suckling this did not have a direct impact on their survival, although the alpha female was obviously an important dog in her pack. The loss reduced the Linyanti pack to nine adults and the nine remaining pups. 

For several days in early October after this disappearance the two dog packs were opposite one another on the Savute Channel and finally the tension became too much. The larger Zib Pack crossed to the north bank, and attacked the waiting Linyanti Pack in a savage territorial fight. After the fight, the dogs were scattered for several days. The cost of the fight was high, with two adult dogs from the Zib Pack dead or missing, leaving the pack ten adults strong. All twelve pups survived unscathed.

The Linyanti Pack appeared to have lost the fight, and moved to the east - which means that we have not been able to observe these animals since the clash, and do not yet have a clear idea of any adult mortalities -  all their pups have survived however.

Since the clash, the Zib Pack has suffered further mortalities, losing two pups to lion attacks. This really puts into stark relief just how finely balanced wild dog survival is. It is not all bad news for the dogs however, as both packs still have a high percentage of their pups remaining alive after six months, and each day that the pups survive sees them bigger, stronger, faster and more likely to make it to adulthood.

Canidae Wrote:Hyaena takes Serval

Although we didn't view the kill; a very interesting sighting. Quite common that Wild Dog will kill Serval as they're direct competition and the speculation is that the Wild Dog pack in the area killed the Serval. We came across the Hyaena as he found the body. After rolling around on it for a while and clearly marking it with his scent; he picked it up and disappeared into the bush.

From here :

- Whilst the individual account was of a Hyaena taking a Serval, I thought it was interesting and relevant to A.W.Ds that it is 'common' for them to do so, as I haven't heard it elsewhere. Seems A.W.D's kill smaller carnivores given the oppurtunity (Black Backed Jackals too, for instance.)
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Canidae Wrote: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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