The Wild Dog has often been viewed as a controversial hunter. Functioning in a pack, the cursorial dog’s technique is to exhaust their prey by chasing it over a long distance. Vocalising to one another the pack functions together as a well co-ordinated unit, eventually bringing down their prey before swiftly disemboweling it for consumption.
Many people find the Wild Dog’s hunting technique to be incredibly barbaric, however when you look at the high rate of hunting success amongst Wild Dogs, around 80% as opposed to the lion’s 30%, you begin to realise that although odious, it is ultimately successful.
Despite the nature of the Wild Dog’s approach to hunting and killing, the dynamics at a kill make for interesting observation and much can be learned about the depth of this specie’s social structure. Firstly, the dogs are never violent in their approach to one another and are able to establish dominance and hierarchy without violence. The use of submission is critical as, for example, different members of the pack will either steal or beg energetically for food rather than presenting a physical confrontation.
Having fed, what often occurs is the development of a game between the members of the pack wherein a piece of the carcass (usually a skull or bones) will be grabbed and used as a ‘trophy’ as the pack excitedly chases each other around. Whether this occurs as a way of warming down the hunt or to reinforce the social bonds between the pack is plausible on both accounts. You will be able to see this clearly shown in the video above.
The final interesting element is how members of the pack return to the den-site and regurgitate pieces of food for those who remained such as the pups and injured/sick dogs. The success of the pack is heavily dependent on the well being of all the members and their ability to work together in order to hunt, kill and thus survive. By looking after the collective the pack enhances its longevity by making certain that pups, sick, elderly and dominant members are all fed and looked after the same.
What I find most interesting about these interactions is how the pack starts to play with a ‘trophy’ once the kill is devoured. I would be interested to hear your own thoughts and ideas as to why this would be the case – is it reinforcing social bonds or something completely different?