Welcome to out post of images and video highlighting facts about the endangered African Wild Dog.
The Endangered African Wild Dog
The African wild dog, which is native to Sub-Saharan Africa, is a member of the Canidae family. It is also called the Cape Hunting Dog or Painted Dog, and usually roams the sparse woodlands and arid zones of Southern Africa.
Unlike other dogs which have 5 toes per foot, this canine has only for toes on its forefeet. With only a few populations remaining, the African wild dog is considered to be one of the world’s most endangered mammals.
They have a short, irregular mottled coat with blotches of black, yellow, red, grey, black and white, and this is why they have the scientific name (Lycaon pictus), which means “painted wolf” in Latin. The hair is longer on the neck but it shortens on the limbs and body.
Each dog’s coat has a unique coloration, and all have large, rounded years that help in cooling the body as well as keeping track of the pack by picking up vocal signals. Since every dog has unique markings, it is easy for researchers to identify individuals.
African wild dogs are very social, hunting in packs dominated by the alpha male and alpha female. The packs have been known to share their food and to help out weak or sick members. They hunt by chasing the prey to exhaustion. When a female gives birth, every member of the pack is involved in caring for them.
African Wild Dog Habitat and Population
In the years gone by, the African wild dog was common throughout Southern Africa, but now only a few fragmented populations remain in Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. It is estimated that less than 6,000 of them are alive today, mostly living in national parks and game preserves such as Kruger National Park.
The numbers have been declining fast due to hunting and loss of habitat. African wild dogs need vast home ranges for them to thrive, and decreasing agricultural land, poaching and human overpopulation have become a direct and serious threat to their survival. They are often persecuted by farmers even when other wild animals are responsible for the death of their livestock.
Source : Youtube – NatGeoWild
Larger carnivores such as hyenas and lions often kill the dogs to reduce competition. When they have the chance, lions will kill as many African wild dogs as possible. They are also susceptible to diseases that are spread by domestic dogs such rabies and canine distemper.
Because large ranges are needed to support viable populations, protected game reserves and sensitization of the communities living nearby are very important. The problem is that African wild dogs are constant wanderers. In the Serengeti for example, each pack is estimated to have a territory of about 1,500 square kilometers, which means an area the size of Greater London can only support one or two packs.
African Wild Dog Conservation
Conservation groups are also actively involved in preventing the decline of the African wild dog by going to the bush and removing snares, vaccinating the dogs and widening the gene pool by creating new packs made up of rescued dogs and orphans. Preventing persecution through education is also an important part of conservation efforts.