The flicking of large, round ears amongst the grass is often the giveaway that there is a pile of snoozing wild dogs in the vicinity. Any such surprise encounter is generally followed by much excitement on the behalf of the spotters; these slender canines, the athletes of the wilderness, are rare and hard to find as they live in very extensive home ranges. They are also the second most endangered carnivores in Africa (after the Ethiopian wolf). Watching a pack is some of the best safari entertainment you could hope for; whether it’s playful puppies bundling out of the den, adults frolicking in water or moving as an intent unit through the wild, whether trying to keep up with dogs on a hunt or watching them engage with the ever-present menace of spotted hyenas.
Wild dogs live in super-organised, cooperative societies where all dogs show submission to the alpha pair and puppies are the most privileged members of the pack. Since they are relatively small in size, working together as a pack enhances their efficiency at catching prey or raising large litters of pups. They are by no means diminutive predators and stand up to other large predators, especially when outnumbering them, and will tree leopards or drive hyenas away by ganging up to nip at their vulnerable flanks.