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African Wild Dogs Vote with Sneezes


How does a pack of African wild dogs make the decision that it is time to hunt? One study found that packs vote on a hunt by sneezing.


- [Narrator] A herd of buffalo.

They're far too big for one dog to take on alone, who could easily kill a single wild dog.

If they are to eat, they need the whole pack.

(bird croaks gutturally) But how does a group of 11 dogs make the decision that now is the right time to hunt?

(dogs chattering in high pitch squeaks) The secret is a pre-hunt rally.

The whole pack performs high energy, almost play-like behavior, the dog version of a pre-match huddle, getting each family member in sync and fired up.

(chattering continues) But scientists studying the ninja pack and the other wild dog packs in Okavango have discovered something even more intriguing.

(dog sneezes) Just before and during a rally, the dogs begin to sneeze.

(sneezing continues) There are several theories as to why the dogs do this, but one study suggests it could, believe it or not, be a complex voting system.

If there are enough sneezes, the pack will be more likely to move off and hunt.

If not, they will stay and rest.

Sneezing completed, the decision is made.

The hunt is on.

African wild dogs can cover over six miles a day in search of food.

A herd of impala.

The pack sets off in pursuit, led by the subordinate female.

(animals braying) (dogs chattering) And working together, they've made a kill.


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