The average number of adults in the park is 110. For many years when Tait was alive, there were three packs occupying the floodplain area each roughly 20 dogs per pack, so we had one dog per kilometre of the 60km of Zambezi river frontage of Mana Pools . The packs were spread out - one pack in the east side of the park, one central and one in the west. Numbers are slightly lower at present due to a combination of factors including changes in pack structure, due to loss of alphas, Tait and Janet, and increased competition from lions and hyenas. We have recorded numerous encounters between lion, hyena and leopard whereby the painted wolves have lost pack members to these competing predators.
HOW PACK STRUCTURE AFFECTS HUNTING
The pack structure has altered over the last few years, for example, Tammy's pack, Nyamatusi have lost 30 pack members to date and that is in a short space of 3 years since the establishment of the pack.
With the loss of such numbers, the pack has dwindled to only four adults, one of which is 9 years old and not as active as he used to. This pack has not been observed hunting baboons since the pack size is so small.
The bigger pack, Nyakasanga which is currently 10 adults has also really slowed down on the frequency of baboon kills, focusing mainly on impala. From as much as 50% of the diet being baboons a few years and the pack taking as many as 3 or 4 baboons on a single hunt we are now only observing baboons kills infrequently, maybe once a week.
This may be a factor of pack size as with Tammy's pack, but also the pack has lost many of its members from a few years ago who were the dogs adept at hunting baboons. The pack now consists of mostly younger dogs which are all Blacktips and Jianis pups from the last 3 years. It is possible that the dogs have lost the baboon hunting technique or they are still a young pack and learning the techniques still - time will tell .