Predators not only prey upon certain prey species, but also on certain age–sex classes within species. Predation risk and an individual’s response to this risk might therefore vary with an individual’s characteristics. We examined the proportion of time different age–sex classes of kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) and impala (Aepyceros melampus) spent high quality vigilant (costly vigilance that detracts from all other activities) in response to mimicked predation risk by African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus). For both species predation risk was the main factor determining the investment in high quality vigilance behaviour. Age–sex class-specific responses were not related to age–sex class specific lethality risk presented by African wild dogs. For impala, regardless of predation risk, age seemed to have some effect on the investment in high quality vigilance with sub-adult impala spending more time high quality vigilant than adult impala, which is possibly why African wild dogs predominantly preyed upon adult impala.
When selecting prey, carnivores optimise energy gained when consuming prey against energy spent when pursuing and subduing prey. Additionally, predators seem to preferentially predate on prey which presents a low risk of injury. When defending itself against predators, baboons (Papio spp.) can inflict serious injury and cause mortality. Although part of Africa’s large carnivores’ diet, predation on baboons is usually avoided. We investigated prey selection patterns of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe. Based on direct and indirect observations and analyses of faecal samples, we show that baboons form a substantial part of the African wild dog diet and were more frequently predated on than would be expected based on availability. Predation on baboons did not vary over baboon sex or age classes but was affected by seasonality. This is the first study to describe a preference for predation on this unusual prey species.