08/27/2012 07:30 am ET Updated Oct 27, 2012

An Afternoon With Africa's Hunting Dogs

On July 16, I had the privilege of spending a couple hours with Cape Hunting Dogs on the Mala Mala reserve in South Africa. Their den site had been found that morning, and it was a remarkable sighting. I'd seen them before during my six years living in East Africa, but never this close, this calm or this playful. Under the watchful eye of an adult, the cubs played relentlessly, probably developing skills that would, in adulthood, make them the most effective carnivores of Africa.

Once they start a hunt in a pack, they rarely fail. According to wildlife filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert, "It is correct that they are hugely efficient. Eighty-four percent was recorded by filmmaker Hugo van Lawick's as the average success rate once they had identified prey."

The success rate of lions, by comparison, is around 30 percent. Patience, stamina and collaboration pay off.

--Sven-Olof Lindblad

The most effective carnivore in Africa