June 22, 2011

African Wild Dogs aka Painted Dogs

Our Okavango Delta guides were absolutely thrilled to see this pack of 17 or 18 (well-camouflaged) African Wild Dogs.  Our guides claimed with great admiration that a pack of hunting dogs never loses the prey it targets and always make the kill.  BBC says these dogs usually hunt at dawn or dusk, or at night if the moon is full.  They hunt by sight rather than smell.  Reaching speeds of 55 mph they chase their prey until it tires and can disembowel their prey as it runs.
You can see why they are also called Painted Dogs. They are endangered and population estimates range from 3,000 to 5,500. In addition to havoc wreaked by humans, entire packs can be wiped out by rabies and distemper. Only the alpha male and alpha female mate, so litters are limited.
Several of the dogs wore collars which enable researchers to track them. Our guides cannot track the dogs but when they saw the research vehicle in the area, they knew these dogs had to be close. 
These dogs play like my Guapo and Darla, and I even saw one dog grab the other dog by its tracking collar and pull (Guapo knows exactly what that feels like.)

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