Energy cost and return for hunting in African wild dogs and cheetahs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Tatjana Y Hubel
  • Neil R Jordan
  • Oliver P Dewhirst
  • J Weldon McNutt
  • Alan M Wilson

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Univ London Royal Vet Coll


African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) are reported to hunt with energetically costly long chase distances. We used high-resolution GPS and inertial technology to record 1,119 high-speed chases of all members of a pack of six adult African wild dogs in northern Botswana. Dogs performed multiple short, high-speed, mostly unsuccessful chases to capture prey, while cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) undertook even shorter, higher-speed hunts. We used an energy balance model to show that the energy return from group hunting and feeding substantially outweighs the cost of multiple short chases, which indicates that African wild dogs are more energetically robust than previously believed. Comparison with cheetah illustrates the trade-off between sheer athleticism and high individual kill rate characteristic of cheetahs, and the energetic robustness of frequent opportunistic group hunting and feeding by African wild dogs.


Original languageEnglish
Article number11034
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2016


  • Biological sciences, ecology, zoology