Known as: African Wild Dog, Painted Dog, Cape Hunting Dog, African Hunting Dog.
Estimated numbers left in the wild: 3.000 – 5.000 can be found mostly in game reserves and national parks.
African wild dogs can grow up to 110 cm in height and weigh up to 36 kg, which is the same size as a medium sized domestic dog. The name painted hunting dog is derived from the splotchy markings on the dogs coat. These markings are unique to each individual in the pack and help other dogs identify that individual.
Pack Structure: They are highly social animals living in packs, dominated by a breeding pair and separated into male and female hierarchies. A pack hunts together and returns to the den to feed the dominant female, puppies and sick dogs. The painted dog is one of very few mammals that actually look after old, sick or disabled members of the pack. The average pack consists of about 10 members with the majority being male, which is unlike any other canine species. Historically packs may have numbered up to 40 individuals!
Reproduction: It is normal only for the alpha female and male to reproduce, while the rest of the pack will help look after the pups. In an African wild dog pack a litter will be born every year with up to 16 pups in each. However, unfortunately the mortality rate is high, so not all will survive.
The average life span of an African wild dog is 11 years.
Location: African wild dogs can be found in eastern and southern Africa in countries like Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Isolated populations can be found in Zambia, Mozambique and Kenya.
African wild dogs prefer to roam in savannah, open plains and sparse woodlands.
Threats: Numbers have declined rapidly across Africa due to hunting and its status as a pest. As a result they are now recognised as Afica’s most endangered predator.
The African wild dog is endangered due to habitat loss caused by human overpopulation, poaching, diseases like rabies and threats from other predators such as lions and hyenas. If given the chance, lions will kill as many wild dogs and their pups as possible in order to reduce competition.
An African wild dog pack will roam over a large territory and can therefore only live in large protected areas. If the pack expands and move into unprotected areas like farm land, they will often be killed by farmers and ranchers who protect their domestic animals.
Conservation efforts: Conservation groups work to prevent the decline of African wild dogs through active work in the bush or through education and studies of their behaviour. The active work include removal of snares to prevent poaching, vaccinations against rabies, and keeping the gene pool diverse by creating new packs consisting of recovered dogs and orphans.
African Wild Dog Videos
African Wild Dog Conservancy operates in Kenya to protect African Wild Dogs through research programmes, educational programmes and by training the local communities.
The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre runs a breeding programme to ensure the survival of African wild dogs in South Africa. They are also involved in research projects, education and raising public awareness of the species.
Botswana Predator Conservation Trust has been studying the African wild dogs since 1989 to understand their territories and how to limit the conflict with humans.
Call from the Wild is an organisation started by Frankfurt Zoological Society which supports a variety of national parks throughout Africa to protect different endangered species including African wild dogs.
The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation supports the work of Painted Dog Conservation in Zimbabwe. Funding goes towards anti-poaching activities, field work and education programmes.
Wildlife Conservation Society was formed in 1895 with the aim of protecting 25 percent of the world’s biodiversity by promoting the importance of protecting wildlife and their habitats. WCS has five zoos in New York.