Learning From Wild Dogs.

by Patrick Liew on February 14, 2013

On 29 December 2012, I visited the Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary at Mossel Bay, Western Cape of South Africa.

As the Tourist Guide led a group of us from one section to another, he introduced various animals to us.

The purpose was to give us a better appreciation of these other fellow residents on planet Earth. We should understand the part they played in our ecology and value them.

I ended up having a much better knowledge of these animals. In particular, I am more appreciative of one particular species of animals.

In fact, it made a deep impression on me and the impression became a major learning experience.

It was to me the climax of the tour and it happened when we were learning about wild dogs (Lycaon pictus).

These fierce-looking animals looked like some of our domestic dogs and they have brown, black, white and yellowish-brown patches all over their body.

The wild dogs were taller and have ears that were larger and were round and black. They have bushy tails, the tips of which are mainly white.

The looks of wild dogs might not be attractive, at least to me. However, there was a quality about them which moved my heart.

Let me share with you this quality by repeating the story that was told to us by the Guide. Hopefully, by the time I finished, you will not think that they are as wild as we thought.

In fact, they are probably a lot less wild than some humans, especially in terms of some of their social behaviours.

By the way, I once went to a Zoo and it had a cage for the worst animal in the world. When you looked into the cage, guess what? You will find a mirror facing you. Lol!

Back to the wild dogs. These mammals lived and hunt as a pack.

Once they have identified the prey, they would be very focused on it. They would work together to pursue it in a long and open chase and would not give up until it becomes ‘wildlife sashimi’.

As a result, they have a success rate for a kill of about 80%. Lions despite their reputation as predators have a rate of only about 30%.

Wild dogs have one of the best stamina in the animal kingdom. Eventually, they will either outrun the prey or pursue it until it runs out of energy.

Usually, while giving chase, the younger and fitter wild dogs are better at closing the gap with the prey and they would snap at it. The prey would hemorrhage and would eventually have to stop running after losing an excessive amount of blood.

According to the Guide, “The wild dogs would share the feast with the older dogs. They would even regurgitate the flesh to make it easier for the older dogs to consume it.”

I found out later that they would also bring food to the sick or injured, pups, and wild dogs that stayed behind to look after the rest of the pack.

Instinctively, they seemed to remember that older and other wild dogs had looked after them before and they should return the favour.

Somehow, they also realised it was important for them to protect and look after the weaker wild dogs in their pack.

I witnessed this wonderful  behaviour during a safari ten days earlier.

Our group was trailing a group of hyenas. They were stealthily pursuing a pack of wild dogs and notably, the puppies and older wild dogs.

Somehow the stronger wild dogs caught wind of the predators.

Instead of running away, they reorganized themselves and defended the weaker ones.

They did not allow the hyenas to take any advantage of them. After a protracted test of courage, action and perseverance, the hyenas gave up and left them alone.

The Guide related to us another story about the wild dogs living in the Sanctuary which touched me. He said, “We used to have one wild dog that was old, sick and dying away.

“Interestingly, the rest of the wild dogs would help to feed and clean it. They would also take turns to protect it.

“This is so unlike many of the other animals. For example, in the case of leopards or cheetahs, they would probably eat the dead or dying animal even though it is from the same breed.”

In my mind, I was thinking. The humans may not eat their own kind. However, they are capable of taking worst actions.

The Guide added, “Eventually, that sick dog passed away and we buried it near to the shelter of the wild dogs.

“Later, we were surprised to see one of them lying on top of the burial ground. It became a sad experience because that wild dog laid on it for about two weeks.

“We have since learned that if any of the wild dogs is dead, we will have to leave it alone. Somehow, the dogs would need time to ‘mourn’ over the dead and ‘grieve’ over the lost.

“These animals have a heart for their elderly and other members of their pack.”


I pondered over this experience on my flight back.

I wondered if after a good meal, the wild dogs would sit together on a cool part of the bushland and have the patience to listen to the older wild dogs as they shared stories from the past.

I wondered  if the elderly would share wisdom crystallized from real-life battles and pass on their knowledge of practical living.

I wondered if the elderly would mentor and coach them so that they could have a better hunt and live a better life.

I wondered if they would tell the puppies how their parents had looked after them well. They should do the same when they grow up and thus, continue the cycle of life.

I also wondered about the human race. In particular, I could not help thinking that in our Asian culture, we have always been taught to respect and look after the elderly.

I wondered if the next generation would continue to support this practice. Would we end up doing as well as, if not better than the wild dogs?

What do you think?

P/S: Please don’t forget to look after this old and sometimes wild dog who wrote this note for you. Lol!

I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Visit my Inspiration blog at http://liewinspiration.wordpress.com/

For my quotes to the mass media on current affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at http://hsrpatrickliew.wordpress.com/

Please do visit my website, www.patrickliew.net

Please read my reflections and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


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