Painted dogs are ruthless killers when they team up against large prey. But they show surprising compassion at home, sharing food with the old and sick.
Nature has given prey a host of defenses...from strength, to speed, to camouflage.
But if there's one pack of predators who have managed to stack the deck in their favor, it's the hunters that live here: The painted dogs, named for their uniquely colored coats.
No relation to the hyenas, these are the so-called wild dogs of Africa.
Maybe the most successful hunters on Earth.
Four out of five chases end in a kill.
Their attack starts with a charge to stampede prey and reveal weaklings.
For the takedown, they have no weapon except their teeth.
But they have large premolars for crushing and eating bones.
And their bite is among the strongest of any meat-eating mammal.
They're not born as first-class hunters; their skills are actually learned.
Adults regurgitate meat for pups, but painted dogs are so social, they share food with the sick and the old.
They seldomly show aggression to each other...rare behavior in the natural world.
Painted dogs hunt across a spectrum of terrain...from savannah, to bush, to floodplain.
When prey is trapped, the dogs enjoy the advantage of a 360-degree attack, a tactic that sooner or later wears down the defender.
They've honed a technique to protect themselves from the lethal horns of African game.
As one holds prey by the tail, another pins it by the mouth.
The rest go for the guts and eat it alive.
They have no choice. Lurking lions would steal their meal, so they wolf it down in minutes and in silence, unlike hyenas, who can't dine without raising a fuss and drawing a crowd.
The highest compliment to this pack comes from its very prey: the lechwe.
Lechwe head for deep water when threatened.
The lechwe are still in hot water.
Once caught, few victims escape from these jaws.
What a tribute to these predators...that their prey fears them more than they fear crocs.