Arrivals & Departures One of Africa's rarest sights

African wild dog in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.
Picture: Stephen Scourfield The West Australian
Photo of Stephen Scourfield

It is thought there are only 5000 African wild dogs remaining. So to spend time with a healthy pack in Zambia is a real treat.

There are just a couple of shapes lost in the grass, until one rises, its big ears and lean brindle body now clear of the grass. Then another and another. To see an African wild dog (a “hunting dog”; a “painted dog”) is rare. But I am now watching a pack of 17.

I am in South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, where African wild dogs were filmed for the series nature series Life, narrated by Sir David Attenborough.

And these African wild dogs are suddenly hungry.

From lying benign and unseen, they have now formed a new, unified, bigger, single entity; a hunting pack. As one, they very quickly more from a walk to a trot to a run.

African wild dogs are brutally efficient hunters. They rise, they run, the kill, often within a minute. Even the elephants are spooked, but an impala is their pray, and quickly consumed.

A pack can eat a full kill — 100kg of meat — in 15 minutes.

Between now and the end of September are excellent for game viewing in Zambia.


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