Rarely-captured scenes show a pack of painted wolves – the same African wild dogs set to be featured on David Attenborough’s Dynasties this weekend – hunting baboons, for the first time.
The photographs show how the animals, Africa’s most efficient predator, have changed their diet and begun to hunt the primates – something never witnessed by experts.
Wildlife photographer Nicholas Dyer took the pictures in the remote Mana Pools of Zimbabwe, where he has been following the animals on foot for the last six years.
His images show two packs hunting baboons on the banks of the Zambezi river, reaching speeds of 44mph to bring down their prey.
A baboon is cornered by a pack of wild dogs who are Africa’s most efficient predator and capable of running at speeds of 44mph
A Blacktip puppy seems to be having fun playing with the head of a baboon after members of his pack have ravaged the body of the captured baboon
A baboon near the banks of the Zambezi river in Zimbabwe is seen running from a pack of African wild dogs who have changed their diets
The painted wolves have finally captured their prey and take what appears to be their first bite of the doomed baboon following a chase
According to the scientific community the painted wolves are eating a baboon after changing their diets, something never before witnessed by experts
Nicholas, 55, who was born and raised in Kenya, commenting on the pictures said: ‘The first time I saw them hunt baboons I found it hard to believe.
‘Normally they only hunt antelopes, like impala and kudu.
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‘But to add baboon to the list is unreported in the scientific community and has been seen by very few.’
Viewers will get a chance to see more of the unusual behaviour in the latest episode of BBC’s Dynasties, narrated by David Attenborough, which airs this Sunday.
The first painted wolves to get a taste for baboon – led by pack leader Blacktip – were captured in filming by the BBC and were one of the packs Nicholas was also following to photograph.
He added: ‘One of my photographs shows two of Blacktip’s puppies playing with the head of a baboon just a few metres in front of me.
‘Some people find it disturbing to see painted wolves eat our fellow primates.
‘But it is actually nature rebalancing itself.
‘The baboon population was exploding in the area and they were destroying birdlife and damaging the local ecosystem.
‘And while the pictures look really macabre, the puppies are just having lots of fun like your dog does when it runs around with a soft toy.’
A pack of African wild dogs captured in the remote Mana Pools of Zimbabwe with one in particular demonstrating his ferocity among the group
A macabre close up of the African wolf with the head of the baboon in his mouth displayed like a trophy
Following the chase and their meal of a primate the pack beginning relaxing on the banks of the Zambezi river and seem to display joy
Nicholas’ passion for saving the incredible creatures led him to set up the Painted Wolf Foundation to raise awareness of their plight and release the book Painted Wolves: A Wild Dogs Life.
He added: ‘There are only 6,500 left in the world and in the race to extinction, they are winning.
‘The reality is that these are beautifully social creatures that live in intricate tightly knit family groups that really care for each other.
‘And yet mankind has been doing all it can to destroy them.’
The population of the African wild dogs has depleted in recent years with 6,500 currently in existence due to habitat loss causing by human over population and disease
Wild dogs and their pups are beginning to thrive despite being targeted by lions who will kill as many as possible to reduce competition for food and space
Africa’s most efficient predator
- African dogs can reach speeds of up to 44mph and have a hunting success rate of 80 per cent
- Painted dogs are known for their large, rounded ears, social nature and incredible stamina
- Wild dogs have specially adapted teeth which enable them to rapidly shred carcasses and therefore lessen the chance of having their meals stolen by other predators.
- These supreme predators work together to bring down prey bigger than them
- There is no rivalry between wild dogs when feeding on captured prey. The killed animal is shared among all members of the clan, including those who were not involved in the hunt