360-DEGREE LIVES: African wild dogs skilled predators in sharp decline


Editor’s note: This is part of a series of videos offering an up-close perspective on the animal kingdom. A special 360-degree video camera system was set up in zoos and other facilities to show how the animals view their world as they interact.

Also visit our special 360-DEGREE LIVES page (http://t.asahi.com/360lives), where you can watch all the previous videos.
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African wild dogs, which have a 70-percent success rate in their predatory kills, are touted as the world’s most efficient hunters in the animal kingdom.

They hunt in packs and relentlessly chase their prey after waiting for the right moment to mount an attack.

African wild dogs inhabit savannas across the African continent except for the Sahara Desert and tropical rain forests.

The carnivorous canine measures about 75 to 115 centimeters long and is characterized by large, round ears and slim legs.

They sport mottled coats of white, black, brownish yellow and other colors. Each dog has a slightly different pattern.

Eleven African wild dogs are kept at the Yokohama Zoological Gardens Zoorasia in the city’s Asahi Ward. It is one of two zoos that keep the animals for exhibition in Japan.

To observe their behaviour, a camera was installed in their enclosure with pieces of chicken meat placed around it.

As soon as the gate opened, two African wild dogs sprang out and devoured the food in seconds.

Others emitted high-pitched noises.

The “hoo calls” can be heard from several kilometers away to alert others. They make the calls when looking for other in their pack or calling that prey is close at hand.

“African wild dogs are interesting animals in that they are very social,” said zoo attendant Masako Hashimoto.

They live in packs, and the males and females work together to coordinate their hunting skills.

They give priority to their cubs at mealtimes and often share prey with weaker members of the pack.

The African wild dog is listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List.

The animal is threatened by bushmeat poaching and a dwindling habitat that reduces their chances of finding prey due to human activity.

There have been efforts to eradicate the species as it is considered vermin that attacks domestic animals. The transmission of infectious diseases from domesticated dogs had led to the extinction of packs in some cases.

Their population numbers remain unknown because African wild dogs are constantly on the move looking for prey.

Masako Hashimoto, an attendant at the Yokohama Zoological Gardens Zoorasia, talks about African wild dogs. (Video by Toshiyuki Takeya)

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