Lions attack Wild Dogs with very small puppies on their way to new den

Wild dogs, or African painted dogs, often choose dens that provide safety and concealment for their pups. However, denning close to a road can be risky due to human disturbances, the possibility of the pups being injured by vehicles and being more accessible to predators. In this case two adult wild dogs with ten pups were denning next to the Satara – Tshokwane road just south of Nkaya pan near Satara Rest Camp in the Kruger National Park.

To ensure the safety of their pups wild dogs often change dens either due to human disturbances such as the constant presence vehicles or to avoid detection by predators. However, this movement can make them vulnerable, as predators may take advantage of these moments to attack. When these two wild dogs started moving the 10 pups along the tar road, presumably to a new den, it was an extremely noisy process due to the yelping and vocalizations of the pups.

During the move two hyenas started following the pack; while the two adult wild dogs were preoccupied with the hyenas, the pups were left unguarded and became vulnerable. This was when three sub-adult male lions took advantage of the situation and attacked the pups, the attack resulted in the death of at least two pups and scattered the confused and panicked rest of the pups. Lions typically do not eat wild dogs. While they do kill wild dogs, this behavior is usually driven by competition rather than a need for food.

Lions and wild dogs compete for similar prey, and by reducing the number of wild dogs, lions can decrease competition for these resources. The primary instinct of wild dogs is to protect their young, but the overwhelming threat posed by the lions led to unavoidable losses. Immediately after the incident, after the lions left, the two adult wild dogs began searching intensively for the pups by vocalizing and trying to gather the scattered pups.

Wild dogs are known to persist in searching for lost pups for extended periods, sometimes even up to a day or more, depending on the circumstances. They will continue to actively look and call for the missing pups. By the time we left the sighting the adults had no success in locating the pups.

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