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This is Deadly 360 -
the show that pits three deadly predators against their prey,
examining both their hunting strategies
and their escape tactics from every angle.
By delving beneath the fur and the feathers,
we find out why a hunt succeeds and why they sometimes fail.
One thing's certain. Prey animals are anything but sitting ducks.
Their defensive strategies keep them alive
and push predators to the limits.
Prepare for Deadly 360.
This is Deadly 360 mission control, where all of today's action
and analysis takes place.
From here, we have access to the most thrilling hunts
that have ever been caught on camera.
I've recreated three of the most exciting and analysed them
from a variety of different angles in true 360 degree style.
The predators we're looking at have to catch food or they won't make it.
In the wild world, simply managing to survive
is the greatest challenge of all. I present to you the dogs.
In today's line-up, we'll see how grey wolves use canine intelligence
to bring down prey that could be ten times their weight.
We'll take a birds-eyes view
of a hunt by Africa's most successful predator, the wild dog.
Plus, we'll also witness the explosively quick attack
of the mysterious and seldom seen Ethiopian wolf.
Three dogs with very different hunting styles
but all devastatingly deadly.
They look invincible, but there's an arms race in nature which ensures
that prey animals are always evolving spectacular ways
of taking care of themselves.
Today's three defenders are an odd looking rodent
that's an expert at duck and cover. The giant mole rat.
There's also the mighty elk.
Half a ton of brute strength armed with some deadly weapons of its own.
Completing the line-up, a champion long jumper of the plains.
It's swift, it's agile, it's the impala. Three impressive prey,
each with its own way of staying alive.
But how will they fare against our predators?
So I've introduced you to all of our contenders.
Now it's time to meet our first deadly duo going head to head.
We start with my all time favourite animal.
The dramatic killer, the grey wolf.
In addition to its fearsome teeth, this predator is armed
with a keen intelligence, making it a highly dangerous hunter.
And up against it, is this. It's an elk,
a giant deer built for both strength and speed.
A truly formidable opponent.
But which animal has the edge in the race for life?
It's time to go Deadly 360.
We've dropped into a frozen mountain wilderness.
The chase is nearing its end. It's a battle of pace and endurance,
with the elk herd and the wolf pack running up to 25mph across deep snow.
Both the hunter and the hunted are on the edge of exhaustion.
If we freeze the action at this moment, who do the odds favour?
The predator or the prey?
Let's go back to the start and examine the hunt in forensic detail.
With any hunt, location is key.
This drama's playing out in northwest USA in the wilderness
of the Yellowstone National Park.
It's winter and temperatures are well below freezing,
which makes life tough for everything that lives here.
With fresh snow on the ground, it's even harder to get around
on this steep, uneven terrain.
A trip or a fall when sprinting at high speeds could easily
result in a life-threatening injury.
This is a pretty challenging environment for a hunt,
but what do our two animals have that's going to give them an edge
in such extreme conditions?
First, let's take a look at the wolf. It's built for the chase,
with a lean body ideally suited to running down its prey.
In addition to speed and stamina,
it's got jaws lined with bone-crunching teeth.
All of that makes our predator a pretty scary prospect.
What does our prey have to counter?
The elk has size and strength on its side.
A fully grown adult can weigh in at over half a ton.
That's ten times more than the wolf.
And the males also have these two massive antlers
which are potentially lethal weapons to use against any predators.
So big, powerful and heavily-armed.
Well, based on all of that,
this will be a pretty interesting hunt. Let's see how it unfolds.
So, like most dogs in the wild, the wolves are hunting in a pack.
Working together gives them the best chance of success
but the elk are also operating as a group.
A herd means more eyes to spot danger and a better chance of survival.
So it's team wolf against team elk.
The elk are making a run for it but this is what the wolves want.
The success of their hunting technique depends entirely
on picking out the right target. When the elk are in motion,
it's much easier to spot any weak or frail members of the herd.
If we analyse the action from above, we see the herd stampeding downhill.
That's because they're frightened and because it's quicker to run downhill
than uphill. This takes them into a valley where the snow's deeper
and this could mean more danger.
Let's pause the action and I'll explain why.
The elk's long, slender legs will cut right down into the deep snow
slowing it down. Once the wolves catch up, is there anything the elks
can do to defend themselves? The obvious thing is their antlers.
Only the males have these and in a fully grown male,
it would be much bigger than this one I've got here.
In fact, it could be double the width and have seven tines.
This one only has three. Now, these are a remarkable material.
It's one of the fastest growing tissues in the natural world.
It can grow two and half centimetres a day, which is just phenomenal.
The primary reason that they have antlers is for two males
to battle with each other when they're competing over a female.
They can make a pretty formidable weapon against something like a wolf.
The tines are pretty sharp and if you can imagine that driven
with the weight of a 600 kilo elk behind it, it would be a little bit
like being charged by a horse with a bunch of swords strapped to its head.
You have to say, I certainly wouldn't fancy being on the end of that.
Let's see if our elk has to put his weapons to any use.
Let's go back to the hunt.
It looks like the wolf pack has managed to split off
one of the elk from the rest of the herd.
You might think this is a good thing for the wolves but look at that elk.
It's an adult male and he's massive, which means he could easily
kill one of these wolves if they get their attack wrong.
He's going to use that freezing water to try and deter the wolves.
They certainly don't look keen on following him in,
especially as he's bringing those sharpened antlers into play.
This adult male's clearly not the target for the wolves,
so they're going to head back up hill and go after the main herd again.
This is interesting. One young wolf has hung around on his own.
Perhaps he's curious, maybe just hungry, but this is a bad idea.
Trying to take on an animal of this size could easily end in its death.
Luckily, though, it looks like he's escaped.
The main pack has gathered again around the herd
and it's driving them over some rough terrain,
trying to use their superior endurance and also trying to find
that one weakened individual that could make their perfect target.
But selecting the right animal will be tricky. Even a female elk
is much larger than the wolf.
So they might be badly equipped to bring down such sizeable prey,
but underneath the wolf's magnificent fur is a skeleton
that I think tells a really interesting story.
This is the skull of a grey wolf
and it's more elongated than the skull of a comparably sized cat,
let's say a leopard. Because it's longer, there's space for more teeth.
There are 42 teeth inside this jaw as opposed to 30 in a cat.
The ones that I think are most interesting are perhaps these here.
They're called carnassials, or cheek teeth.
They're broad but have a sharp cutting edge
and these are perfect for crunching through bone.
If you've ever seen a dog eating a bone, it'll use the side of its mouth
and crunch away at it, rather than using these teeth here,
which are far too brittle for such a strong job.
Even more interesting, though, is this.
This is called the nuchal crest. It's at the very, very back of the skull
and that anchors the neck muscles. What wolves will classically do
is bite in and then brace themselves back using their front legs
and use their entire body weight to shake their head
from side to side like this, wrenching out chunks of meat
and that simply wouldn't be possible without the massive muscles
that are anchored here.
Let's see how all of these features function in a real life situation.
It's back to the hunt.
Our hunt is in its final stages and if we head back to our aerial view,
you can see that the pack's managed to completely fracture the herd.
This particular wolf has spotted a target. It's a much younger female.
Let's compare her to the fully grown male from earlier on.
You can see she's a totally different story. She's about half his weight,
much less powerful and doesn't have those terrifying antlers.
There's also one extra thing which there's no doubt
that our wolf will have noticed and we can see with our technology.
If we zoom in, we can see that
there's a bony growth on the rear leg.
This is possibly caused by her being kicked or from a fall in the past
and now she's slightly lame.
The wolves will have spotted this.
This is the kind of weakness they've been trying to find.
Let's restart the action.
After such a long pursuit, the elk is completely exhausted
and that injured leg means she can't maintain her speed.
The wolves have latched on with those bone-crunching jaws.
The rest of the pack moves in and it's all over.
OK, so the pack has had their meal.
In these kind of conditions and with this sort of prey source,
grey wolves will be successful 45 to 64 percent of the time.
And today, at least, the pack is not going to go hungry.
So although the elk had size and power, strength in numbers
and sharpened antlers, the wolves still managed to bring one down
using their endurance, their bone-crunching jaws
and most importantly, teamwork -
working together to bring down the weakest member of the herd.
Now on to our next pair of hunters locked in a battle for survival.
For the predators, it's another wolf. The Ethiopian wolf.
Although it might look similar to its grey cousin,
it has an altogether different style of hunting.
And up against it is this.
A burrowing rodent, with super quick reactions. The giant mole rat.
But which has the edge in the race for life? It's time to go Deadly 360.
As we drop into the action,
you can already see this is a totally different type of hunt.
There's no long-distance endurance race. Instead, it's a battle
of patience and nerve. We're at the critical point.
The next few seconds will decide the outcome.
Based on size alone, you'd say it looks like the prey's done for,
but don't give up hope just yet. It's very rarely as simple as that.
Let's rewind to the start of the hunt and begin our investigation.
First, location. As our wolf's name suggests,
we're in Ethiopia in Africa. In the Bale Mountains, to be precise.
It's high altitude here, over 3,000 metres above sea level.
That's twice the height of the UK's highest mountain.
It's dry and the ground is open with very little vegetation,
which means no cover for either animal.
That's our location. What attributes do our predator and prey have
that will give them an advantage in this kind of environment?
First up, the Ethiopian wolf. It's smaller than the grey wolf
and instead of endurance, this dog's hunting technique relies
on stealth and a quick explosive attack.
It's also got a range of super senses and those killer canine jaws,
lined with sharp teeth.
Those are the weapons that our predator will unleash on its target.
But what about the animal in the firing line?
What's it got to protect itself?
Well, firstly it lives underground, a useful way of staying out of trouble
and it has two prominent front teeth, which look like
they could give quite a bite.
Plus, it also has an unlikely friend to protect it,
but I'll tell you more about that later.
So we have two very different animals.
But which one's going to come out on top in this hunt? Let's find out.
Here's our pack of Ethiopian wolves
and it looks like they're heading out to hunt.
But the first thing that will happen is the pack is going to split up.
That's because unlike grey wolves, Ethiopian wolves are solo hunters.
This is all down to the size of their potential prey.
There's nothing in the mountains here as large as elk that needs
to be overcome by a group working together as a team and actually,
if you sneak up on something like a rodent, it's easier on your own.
But first of all, they have to find their target.
That might appear easy. There don't seem to be too many places to hide.
But the giant mole rat spends most of its time living down
in an extensive network of tunnels.
So how do you hunt down and catch prey that could be underground
and you can't even see?
Let's take a closer look at the adaptations the Ethiopian wolf has
for going rat catching.
The Ethiopian wolf is subtly different to its grey wolf cousin.
The muzzle is slightly longer and thinner, which is great
for getting into cracks and crevices.
Also, looking at the teeth, you can see that they're smaller
and more spread out than they are in a grey wolf.
That's much more suited to taking on small prey than to bringing down
something as large as an elk or a moose.
However, that long, thin snout is decidedly dog-like
and it's something that all of the canines share and there's a reason.
The nasal cavity extends through all of this muzzle,
which means it has much more surface area inside than our own.
That means that there are many more places for a scent molecule to alight
and it means its sense of smell is much more potent than our own.
Right, let's get back to the hunt.
The wolf's using its nose to sniff out its prey
and it's on to something. There's a mole rat nearby.
So now the wolf is keeping as low a profile as possible
and being silent, just waiting for the mole rat to make a mistake.
This rodent eats roots and grasses, which gives it a dilemma.
It can either stay underground and starve or come to the surface
and risk coming into contact with the wolf.
But surely the mole rat isn't totally defenceless?
So this is pretty much all you would ever see of a mole rat.
As the head pops up, the eyes instantly become available
to the outside world, because they're positioned on top of its head.
It doesn't have amazing eyesight but the fact that it can keep its body
deep inside the burrow safe while it's looking around is an advantage.
They do have an impressive set of incisor teeth
which are used for digging, for foraging
and potentially for biting, but that's not going to put off the wolf.
However, this animal has a friend on its side.
This is a hill chat and it's developed an interesting relationship
with the mole rat. It's learnt that the burrows created by the mole rat
throw earth up on to the surface that's full of invertebrates,
things like worms and beetles, and it can feed on those.
And the hill chat is good at sensing the approach of predators.
When it sees something coming, it'll make an alarm call and fly away
and the mole rat listens for that alarm call.
The second it hears it, it knows that danger's approaching
and disappears into its burrow. It's like an early warning system.
Let's see if this mutual friendship actually works.
The giant mole rat isn't making this easy for the wolf.
It's well camouflaged and will only pop up for a brief second,
grab some grass or herbs and then disappear back down underground.
So to try and catch it out, the wolf keeps very low to the ground
attempting to get close enough to launch a strike.
Whoa! That was really quick. Perhaps too quick to see with the naked eye.
Let's have another look. You can see that the leap is incredibly precise,
but the mole rat's already gone.
The hill chat was calling, alarm calling,
and the mole rat heard it and disappeared down into its burrow.
I'm pretty sure, though, our wolf isn't going to give up that easily.
Now that the chat has been scared off, the wolf will have another try.
He's creeping up close.
And the final pounce. He's done it!
Let's see that one more time.
So there's no hill chat, there's no early warning system.
Every time the mole rat ducks underground, the wolf is scooching
one bit closer and the final plunge is perfect.
The mole rat is, unfortunately, lunch!
The beautiful Ethiopian wolf was using a completely different
hunting strategy to the grey wolf and going for much smaller prey.
In parts of the Bale Mountains, there are as many as 6,500 giant mole rats
per square mile, so there are plenty of targets for our canine killer.
The mole rat had lightning fast reactions, those nasty gnashers
and its avian early warning system. But the Ethiopian wolf tracked down
and snared its prize using a super sensitive nose, explosive speed
and those rodent-chomping jaws.
So that's two hunts down, one to go.
And this is our last deadly duo locked in a battle for life or death.
For the predators, we have the wild dog,
widely regarded as one of the most effective hunters on the planet.
And up against it is this.
The light-footed impala. With its incredible powers of pace
and manoeuvrability, it will take some catching.
But which animal has the edge in the race for survival?
It's time to go 360.
As usual, we drop straight into the action.
The wild dog is closing in on its prey.
It's looking for a last burst of speed to bring down the impala.
But by now, you know there's more to a hunt than just the final strike.
What are all the hidden factors that will influence what happens
in the next few seconds.
To find out, we have to wind back to the start and dissect the action.
First, where we are? This chase is taking place
in one of the great theatres of the natural world,
the plains of southern Africa, here in Botswana.
That means open ground, shrub land and very high temperatures.
The ground's flat, so once either of these animals gets going,
they'll be able to move at great speed without encountering
too many obstacles. And finally, it's just after the wet season,
so there are still large expanses of open water on the plains.
We've set the scene, but how do these animals operate in this environment
and what attributes do they have, in particular,
that might tip the balance in their favour?
For attacking, the wild dogs have those powerful canine jaws
and a body perfectly adapted for long distance running in the African heat.
And like the grey wolves, they're hunting in a pack, working as a team
to bring down their prey.
An impressive line-up of hunting skills, but as ever on Deadly 360,
our prey animal is armed with some pretty impressive means of defence.
The impala has extraordinary hearing and vision,
and if you combine that with incredible speed and the ability
to leap over nine metres, this is certainly not an easy target.
Our predator will find it difficult to get anywhere near this prey.
Let's see what happens.
Here we are at the start of the hunt.
The impala are tucking into lunch but they could be on the menu today.
Here comes our pack of wild dogs.
OK, let's just stop it there.
To understand what makes these some of the most effective predators
on the African plains, let's go aerial.
As the dogs are moving in towards their prey, they're splitting up.
They might surround their prey. Sometimes they'll even drive animals
towards other dogs that are lying waiting in ambush.
It looks like they've been spotted.
One of the dogs is making its move. OK, let's just rewind that.
In response to a threat, the impala are splintering.
They're running off in different directions to confuse the dogs.
The downside of this is that now they're out of touch with each other.
The herd is completely splintered. However, the impala
have a very nifty way of keeping in touch.
The impala have special scent glands on the rear legs.
As they sprint off in all different directions,
they leave behind a chemical marker which the other impala can interpret.
This is going to really help when they try and re-group later on.
Let's look at the impala's locomotion, because it is unusual.
They move in a series of sprints and leaps and as they come back down
to the ground, they kick out with their rear legs,
taking their whole body above the vertical and land
on their enlarged, lengthened front legs. It looks highly ungainly
but it enables this animal to get up to speeds of over 30mph,
to make leaps of nine metres consecutively
and over three metres in height.
This, combined with their exceptional manoeuvrability,
mean that this is no easy meal.
OK, the chase is now fully underway.
From our aerial view, you can see that the three lead dogs
have targeted a single impala and they're driving it
towards another hidden member of the pack.
Oh! That was so close. Hang on, let's see that again.
You can see at the last split second, the impala side steps away
from the dog and bounds off into the distance.
However, the hunt is certainly not done.
One of the dogs is cutting the corner anticipating the impala's course.
He's almost caught up.
Now it's one on one. While the impala certainly has more pace than the dog,
the dog has incredible endurance.
Let's get a look at why this animal has so much stamina.
What is it that makes the wild dog such an efficient marathon runner?
If we take a look at the body shape, you can see that the legs are long,
lean and slender.
This creates a loping gait that's very efficient over longer distances.
The chest cavity, here, is quite large. That houses very sizable lungs
which drag in enormous amounts of oxygen which can then be transferred
into the blood and around the body with this, the heart.
It's about a third larger than is found in most other mammals.
One of the problems that an animal like this will face
is overheating, particularly in the heat of the African sun.
Dogs don't sweat as efficiently as we do,
so they need to lose heat in other ways.
Firstly, the ears are really rather large.
They have lots of blood vessels that are close to the surface of the skin
and as the warm blood travels through them,
heat is lost to the outside air.
And they also pant, just like a domestic dog.
This is a great way of getting heat away from the core body.
All of these adaptations mean that it should be more efficient
in a longer chase than its prey. Let's see it in effect.
This is a face-off. A straightforward battle of speed against endurance.
With its stamina, the wild dog knows it just has to keep up long enough
for the impala to make a mistake.
This is pretty much a foregone conclusion now. No, hang on a second.
He's heading into the lake! That is a bold move and a desperate escape.
It had the dogs on its heels and the impala headed straight to the water.
They're not strong swimmers but it looks like the dogs won't follow!
And this is an incredibly lucky escape.
Four out of five wild dog hunts result in a successful kill,
which makes them much more efficient hunters than any of the big cats.
For our impala to make good, its escape required a mix of skill
and, let's face it, good fortune.
So the wild dogs had teamwork, a lean body for speed
and a massive heart and lungs for stamina.
But they were up against the impala's highly tuned senses,
its acceleration and that dramatic agility.
It was a very close run thing but this time,
an act of desperation from the impala was enough to save its life.
All over the world, there are constant dramas
playing out between predators and prey.
Whether it's in the ice and snow of Yellowstone,
up at high altitudes in the mountains of Ethiopia,
or in the searing heat of the African plains, the canines,
the dog family, are a complete and cunning set of predators.
That's all we've got time for. Join us next time
as three more pairs of animals go head to head
and we analysis the action Deadly 360 style.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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