About MalaMala

Lion | Leopard | Buffalo | Rhinoceros | Elephant | Wild Dog | Cheetah




  • Family: Canidae
  • Weight: 20 – 30 kg
  • Height: 60 – 75 cm
  • Speed: 66 km/h / 41 mph
  • Life span: 10 years
  • Diet: small to medium sized antelopes
  • Their Latin name, Lycaon pictus, means "painted wolf-like animal."

African Wild Dogs hunt in packs. Their main prey varies among populations, but always focuses on medium sized ungulates such as impala. Like most members of the dog family, they are cursorial hunters, meaning that they pursue their prey in a long, open chase, rather than relying on stealth as do most members of the cat family. During pursuit, they may reach speeds of up to 45 mph. Typically, about 85% of their hunts result in a kill.

Members of a pack vocalize to help coordinate their movements. Their voice is characterized by an unusual chirping or squeaking sound, similar to a bird. After a successful hunt, dogs regurgitate meat for those that remained at the den during the hunt, such as the dominant female and the pups. Occasionally, they will also feed other pack members such as very old dogs that cannot keep up.

Wild dogs are endangered, primarily because they occupy huge ranges and consequently can exist only in large wildlife protected areas. Their hunting method means that, unlike leopards, they are incapable of living unobtrusively and unnoticed in farming areas. They are strongly affected by competition with larger carnivores that rely on the same prey base, particularly lions and hyenas, and lions are the greatest cause of mortality in Wild Dogs.

Two packs are known to frequent MalaMala. The largest is a pack consisting of 17 individuals who we were able to constantly view whilst denning here during the winter months of 2007. Fourteen pups were born with more than half surviving to sub-adulthood. Extraordinary considering the high mortality rate these youngsters are privy to during their younger years of existence. The second pack is much smaller, containing one adult female and three sub-adults. Speculation is rife concerning the origins of these dogs but they probably formed due to a Beta male and female split from a larger pack who have managed to raise some pups before the male succumbed to one of the many perils these hyper-active animals face, leaving the female to hunt and provide for the rapidly growing youngsters.



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