Watch an Adult Lion Ambush an Entire Pack of Wild Dog Pups!

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Written by Sharon Parry

Updated: November 9, 2023

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© Mr. Philip Gabrielsen / Creative Commons

Key Points:

  • This article covers an adult lion ambushing a pack of wild dog puppies.
  • Even though the incident in the video may horrify us, it is very typical of what happens to these dogs.
  • Even if the parent of the wild dog puppies would have been there, it’s unlikely the outcome would have been any different.

Cats vs. dogs is an age-old conflict and one immortalized in many stories and cartoons. In nature, however, the outcome can be sudden and brutal and in this video, we see just how savage life on a game reserve can be. This particular video was bravely captured by a 22-year-old visitor. He was on a trip to Sabi Sands, Greater Kruger Park, in South Africa with his family.

They particularly wanted to see a pack of wild dogs and were delighted when they found a group of 16 pups. The encounter started off just the way they had planned as they watched the mother dog return and regurgitate food for her offspring.

This is typical behavior for these animals who use it as an efficient way to carry food back to the den for their young. They will also regurgitate food for other dogs and all adults will regurgitate food for the pups – not just the parents.

Life as a pack

lion
Lions can be extremely quiet while hunting.

As pack animals, there are usually other adults around to care for the cubs when the parents are away hunting but this did not happen on this occasion. The pups were playing alone and didn’t seem to have a care in the world. They were blissfully unaware of the tragedy that lay just around the corner.

To the horror of the human on-lookers, a large and aggressive male lion arrives and manages to grasp two of the pups in his mouth. The desperate yelps of the pups can be clearly heard amongst the gasps from the people who witnessed the attack.

He is joined by another two lions and the three pace around their kill and then proceed to squabble over who gets the first go at eating it. Later in the startling footage, we see the initial large lion set off in the direction of the pups but he is unsuccessful in finding any more.

African Wild Dogs

wild dogs

African wild dogs are known to prey on animals that are significantly larger than they are, such as

antelope

and zebra.

©bayazed/Shutterstock.com

African wild dogs are unique creatures and are very popular with holidaymakers on safari in this incredible country. They are very sociable and live in packs of ten or more. The pack works together to very efficiently hunt impala (medium-sized antelope found in eastern and southern Africa) as well as warthogs and even wildebeest calves.

This makes them one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s top predators. The problem is that lions also hunt impalas so the wild dogs are a threat to the lion’s food supply. If given a chance, a lion will therefore kill an African wild dog without hesitation.

Whilst we may be horrified by the scene in this video, it is fairly typical of the fate of these dogs. Females give birth to up to 20 pups at a time and have larger litters than any other type of dog. Few pups are expected to survive to become adults and this sadly is what we witness in this footage.

Even if the parents had been present, it is unlikely that they could have fought off a large and aggressive male lion who is a magnificent apex predator.

Is It Normal for a Lion to Prey on African Wild Dog Pups?

pride of lions

Lions live in groups called prides.

©iStock.com/Tommy_McNeeley

Yes, it is normal for lions to prey on African wild dog pups. They will even target adult wild dogs when the opportunity presents itself. Lions are one of the biggest threats to the African wild dog population overall. In areas of Africa where lions are abundant, wild dog populations often suffer. An extreme case occurred in Etosha National Park, where they attempted to reintroduce a pack of wild dogs to the park, only to have it destroyed by lions. 

Lions will often kill African wild dogs simply to eliminate competitors for available prey. Lions have been known to kill them but leave them uneaten. In the case of the video, the lion that killed the pup walked away, leaving it to two other members of the pack to devour.


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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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