African Wild Dog
The African wild dog, a mammal related to the domestic dog, can only be found in Africa, particularly in areas that are lightly wooded or have scrub foliage. Its Latin name is Lycaon Pictus, which means Painted Wolf. The name is apt, since the African wild dog is distinct in that each individual has a unique coat pattern. This means that individual members of a pack can be identified through their coat pattern alone.
The African wild dog hunts in packs and overcomes its prey by running them down through an extended chase. During these hunts, the dogs can reach speeds up to 45 miles per hour, with the hunt ending in a kill at least 85% of the time. The pack will coordinate with each other using special squeaking or chirping sounds. After making a kill, the dogs will regurgitate the meat in the den to feed the pups and dominant females. Elderly dogs are sometimes fed in this manner as well.
Enclosed and Endangered
The African wild dog is currently an endangered species and is listed as being under critical risk by the San Diego Zoo. Reports have placed the current population at 3000, with the majority being based in Tanzania, Botswana and Namibia. The dogs are naturally at risk from disease such as rabies and parvovirus. They are also vulnerable to other larger carnivores such as lions who feed on the same prey.
However, the largest threat being posed to the African wild dog today is from man. Due to human expansion, the dogs have lost much of their natural habitat and their ability to hunt prey over long distances. The African wild dog has also been targeted by ranchers and farmers who are concerned for their livestock.
This drastic reduction in wild dog numbers has prompted the establishment of a wild dog conservation unit called Painted Dog Conservation. By finding new methods for preserving the African wild dog’s habitat, we can help ensure the future of this endangered animal.