When heading off on a Safari Holiday, most of us are set on spotting the Big 5, namely the rhino, lion, water buffalo, elephant, and the elusive leopard, but the African bush has much more to offer the intrepid traveller or keen wildlife photographer.
African Wild Dogs, otherwise referred to as African Painted Dogs or Cape Hunting Dogs, are one of the rarest creatures you will come across in the bush, but you have to be lucky to find them, and one of the best places in to do so is in Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve in South Africa’s Greater Kruger National Park.
Wild dogs are intelligent animals found in certain areas of Sub-Saharan Africa. They are highly sociable and work in packs of up to 40 members, and so if you do catch a glimpse of them during your early morning or late evening game drive, you are in for a treat… although, watching Wild Dogs hunt is not for everyone!
Unlike lions, cheetahs and leopards, who suffocate their prey as quickly as they can, Wild Dogs chase their prey to exhaustion, tearing off pieces as they run, which doesn’t make for pleasant watching if you are an animal lover. But that said, it’s all part of nature, and fortunately, most kills happen quickly with entire carcasses being consumed in what seems like minutes.
As one of Africa’s most prolific hunters, African Wild Dogs can reach speeds of up to 55kmph when chasing prey, and by working together as a group, they rarely miss an opportunity. Like most predators, African Wild Dogs play an important role in maintaining a natural balance of animal species, and they usually target sick and weaker animals, relying on sight rather than scent to pinpoint their prey.
Sadly, like much of Africa’s wildlife, the African Wild Dog is now an endangered species with less than 6,000 remaining in the wild. Charitable organisations such as the African Wildlife Foundation and WWF are trying to protect the African Wild Dog from extinction, and by protecting vital wildlife ‘corridors’ between game reserves and reducing conflict with humans, we can all do our bit to ensure these magnificent creatures survive for future generations.
We were lucky enough to come across a whole pack of African Wild Dogs during our Safari at Sabi Sands, and while they refused to pose for the camera, we got a couple of interesting shots of them finishing off their breakfast…