The painted wolf’s diet ranges from small animals (hares, warthog, etc) to impala and kudu. Favoured prey species differ by area and prey availability. They have been known to hunt larger animals such as buffalo, but very rarely. In areas where prey has been severely depleted, painted wolves have been known to hunt domestic livestock. There is, however, no record of a painted wolf ever attacking a human.
Before the pack goes on the hunt, they perform a joyous ‘greeting ceremony’. Even though they have been sleeping next to each other all day or all night, their enthusiasm in this pre-hunt ritual is incredible to watch.
Painted wolves are generally pretty smelly, but they make it even worse (or better?) before they hunt, often rolling in faeces or regurgitated meat, as a type of battle armour which disguises their own body odour.
There are many scientists who believe that painted wolves are extremely strategic when they hunt, communicating somehow as they pursue their prey. In the moment, however, it certainly seems like chaos, and many chases end in failure.
While many individual chases end in failure, painted wolves are perhaps Africa’s most successful predators with a high overall success rate for their hunts. This is partially due to their stamina and ability to sustain high speeds (up to 60 kilometres an hour) for three to four kilometres. Their killing technique minimizes suffering, and prey does not linger alive after being caught.
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