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Observing an African Wild Dog Pack in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Tanzania
Sep 21 2015 Written by: Rob Barbour

This past week I spent several hours observing an African Wild Dog pack in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (outside of the Crater), on the short grass plains near Ndutu in Tanzania.

There were 8 adults and 5 pups in the pack. The alpha female usually births the pups; after they are born the rest of the adults are tasked to look after them. Interestingly this group had three older and two younger pups, suggesting that there are two mothers which is unusual as it can impact the survival of the pups.

 

We were fortunate enough to spot the dogs hunting and devouring a large male Grant’s Gazelle.  The adults typically leave the pups at a den under the care of an adult, but on this occasion all the adults joined in on the hunt.

They loped along at 15-20km/hour for about 6km until they found their prey and then worked as a well drilled team, taking turns to chase down their prey. Whilst the gazelle is faster, the dogs have incredible stamina and are patient. The gazelle eventually becomes fatigued and overheated.

Once the prey has been eaten by the adults they return to the den and regurgitate the meat for the pups. At one point, a Golden Jackal came to try and assist with the prey and was promptly despatched by the dogs.