I had to blog on this! Yesterday I was watching a documentary on wild dogs of Africa. It invoked some past memories of watching “Jungle Book” where the central character, Mowgli, is taught how to fight them….

If you are wondering what “wild” dogs are: they are close ancestors of our domesticated dogs. Not much of a difference between the two – except that the former is a hunter by birth.

Discovery showcased “The African wild dog” or Lycaon pictus, which is a carnivorous mammal, found only in Africa – in the forests of Botswana. It is also called the African hunting dog, the Cape hunting dog, the spotted dog, or the painted wolf in English, Wildehond in Afrikaans, and Mbwa mwitu in Swahili.

Apart from being quick and very caring nature of the dogs among the group, what interested me was their hunting tactics. The African wild dog hunts in packs. It pursues its prey in a long, open chase. During pursuit, it may reach speeds of up to 47 mph. Nearly 80% of all hunts end in a kill !!!. Members of a pack vocalize to help coordinate their movements. Its voice is characterized by an unusual chirping or squeaking sound, similar to a bird.

Remarkably, this large-animal hunting tactic appears to be a learned behavior, passed on from generation to generation within specific hunting packs within the species.

The big cat – “Lion” is the natural enemy of the dogs. They somehow get very aggressive whenever they see a dog.

Among the group of cameramen was an amazing Bushman (he drove the SUV around) – like the one in “The Gods Must Be Crazy” – except that he wore modern khaki dress and spoke English. He guided the cameramen and identified the dogs’ footprints to such an accurate degree that he amazed everyone, since the cameraman was tired of searching for it using radio tracking system.

These dogs are dangerously close to extinction. A few hundred of them survive today.