Cape hunting 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 most members of the cat family do. During pursuit, they may reach speeds of up to 45mph. Typically, about 85% of their hunts result in a kill.
Members of a pack vocalise to help coordinate their movements. Their voice is characterised 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.
There are currently four packs of Cape hunting dogs that frequent our property, some months more regularly than others.