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Prey selection and use of natural and man-made barriers by African wild dogs while hunting : research article

  • Journal Title: South African Journal of Wildlife Research
  • Volume: Volume 34
  • Issue:  Issue 2
  • Publication Date: 2004
  • Pages: p.135  - 142
  • Authors:  Ruth Rhodes;  Grant Rhodes;
  • ISSN: 03794369
  • Abstract:  The hunting patterns of a pack of African wild dogs (<I>Lycaon pictus</I>) were monitored on an 8356 ha reserve in the Waterberg Mountains, Limpopo Province, South Africa. Some members of the pack were radio-collared and the dogs were followed daily by researchers from April 2002 to January 2003. Prey selection and the use of barriers during the wild dogs' hunts were studied. Barriers were defined as objects such as game fences, flowing rivers and dams, which impeded a fleeing prey animal's escape. Kudu (<I>Tragelaphus strepsiceros</I>) comprised the majority (60%) of the dogs' kills, although they made up only 14% of the total prey items available to the dogs.Wild dogs in the reserve made 81% of their kills within 20m of a barrier, although these 20 m zones made up only 1.7% of the total area available to the dogs in the reserve. Being able to factor the use of barriers into their hunts could explain the preponderance of large prey in their diet. Because wild dogs make most of their kills near or at barriers, there are important management implications of having wild dogs in small reserves. These include ensuring that fences are sturdy and monitored for damage which might occur during hunts. The ability of wild dogs to successfully target the larger prey animals may also have an effect on the carnivore/prey balance and should be monitored carefully.
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