Additive opportunistic capture explains group hunting in African wild dogs

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Hubel, T Y ; Myatt, J P ; Jordan, N R ; Dewhirst, O P ; McNutt, J W ; Wilson, A M

African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) are described as highly collaborative endurance pursuit hunters based on observations derived primarily from the grass plains of East Africa. However, the remaining population of this endangered species mainly occupies mixed woodland savannah where hunting strategies appear to differ from those previously described. We used high-resolution GPS and inertial technology to record fine-scale movement of all members of a single pack of six adult African wild dogs in northern Botswana. The dogs used multiple short-distance hunting attempts with a low individual kill rate (15.5%), but high group feeding rate due to the sharing of prey. Use of high-level cooperative chase strategies (coordination and collaboration) was not recorded. In the mixed woodland habitats typical of their current range, simultaneous, opportunistic, short-distance chasing by dogs pursuing multiple prey (rather than long collaborative pursuits of single prey by multiple individuals) could be the key to their relative success in these habitats.
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    We thank J. Lowe and S. Amos for building and programming collars; K. Roskilly for GPS/IMU fusion code; K. Golabek for coordinating field research; G. Gilfillan, D. Kedikilwe and J. Vitale for field assistance; D. Pfeiffer and Y. Chang for statistical advice; J. Usherwood and P. Apps for very helpful discussions and comments; S. Portugal and A.R. Wilson for comments on the manuscript; and the EPSRC (EP/H013016/1), BBSRC (BB/J018007/1) and ERC (323041) for funding. This work was approved by RVC Ethics & Welfare Committee, and was carried out under a permit from the Botswana Ministry of Environment Wildlife and Tourism, Department of Wildlife and National Parks held by J.W.M. The BPCT field research programme is supported by grants from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Wild Entrust International, Tusk Trust and numerous private donors.

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