How Painted Wolves Hunt

How Painted Wolves Hunt

The painted wolves are one of the most efficient hunters of the African bush. They are successful 80% of the time they go hunting. Not every chase ends with a kill but most hunts involving several chases will end with a kill. This is truer in the dry season than at other time of the year when the game is concentrated along the Zambezi as the only source of water and hunting success rates are high. They have a high through flow of food through their digestive system when they are hunting efficiently like this and their droppings have a high nutrient content.

During the day the hooded vultures follow the dogs around and eat the droppings. At night it’s the hyenas who follow the dogs and as soon as a dog poops 2-3 hyenas will run in and eat it as fast as they can. This behaviour has not been recorded previously.

Other prey species in Mana are predominantly impala, they mostly kill females, especially at the peak of the dry season before the rains when the Impala is heavily pregnant and nutrition levels are low. Male impala are hunted and often males are taken in the rut where they are preoccupied. Back in the Jesse bush of Mana Pools, the dogs do hunt nyala, and they will also take young warthogs the adults being too dangerous to tackle. Kudu are only rarely taken by the dogs in Mana Pools.

Nick Murray first noted a completely unique new prey for the painted wolves – baboon. Nick first observed this in Mana Pools in 2008, and it has been the only population that this has been observed in. This is a picture of a painted wolf pup from the Vundu pack, gnawing on a juvenile baboon skull at the den in 2012. The baboon hunting started as an opportunistic behaviour. the den site at the time was in a riverine area with high densities of baboon. The adults would hunt baboons on their way back to the den after the morning hunt and bring the carcass to the den for the pups to chew on. This behaviour was recorded for the first time on the Dynasties Painted Wolf episode.

Baboon Hunting Vundu Pack