Meeting Abstract

52.3  Monday, Jan. 5 14:00  Modern African wild dogs – Opportunists rather than Specialists HUBEL, TY*; MYATT, JP; JORDAN, NR; DEWHIRST, OP; MCNUTT, JW; WILSON, AM; Royal Veterinary College; Birmingham University; Botswana Predator Conservation Trust; Royal Veterinary College; Botswana Predator Conservation Trust; Royal Veterinary College thubel@rvc.ac.uk

The African Wild dog (Lycaon pictus) is often identified as the ultimate endurance hunter. Their hunting style has been described as running down prey over long distances with a high level of collaboration between the pack members until the prey is exhausted. This suggests that they represent one end on a spectrum of hunting styles with the opposite end occupied by the cheetah an extremely fast and maneuverable hunter. We collared a pack of six adult African Wild dogs with high resolution GPS/IMU collars and discovered that in their currently most common woodland habitat, while travelling considerable distances at preferred speeds, they did not capture prey after long chases or hunt collaboratively. Wild dogs are rather opportunistic in their hunting strategy, travelling through their habitat as a group with individuals chasing after chance encounters. When approaching a herd of impalas (their main prey) wild dogs chase after different prey mostly individually or as pairs, showing no synchronized approach focusing on only one prey. Chases are rather short and very fast, but acceleration, centre of mass power and turning (centripetal) acceleration are all lower than equivalent values for cheetahs. Lack in maneuverability and speed, compared to cheetahs, are compensated by multiple dogs hunting, larger distances travelled, consequently more prey encounters and more hunting attempts. To what extent hunting strategies in Wild Dogs are flexible and can be adapted to habitat and prey size has yet to be determined.