This distinctive canid (also known as the Cape hunting dog or painted hunting dog) has fascinated me ever since I first watched a documentary about them as a child. It was impossible not to fall in love with these beautiful animals, with their ‘painted’ coats, comically large ears and fascinating social system, combined of course with the fact that the pups are absolutely adorable!
These highly social dogs live in packs of 2 to 27 and hunt cooperatively, a strategy which not only helps them bring down prey many times their size but has also made them one of Africa’s most successful predators. Around 80% of African wild dog hunts end in a kill, compared with only 30-40% of lion hunts, a pretty impressive statistic!
During a night drive in Kruger National Park I was fortunate enough to see a pack of African wild dogs feeding at a kill and it was a magical experience to see these animals up close. I even managed to capture a short video of them before they headed off into the night, although my camerawork leaves a lot to be desired!
Fortunately ARKive has a much more professional selection of African wild dog videos for you to take a look at!
Sadly, not everyone feels the same about these dogs as they are currently classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. They have long been persecuted as they are believed to attack livestock, although in reality this is a rare occurrence. Because they range over such great areas many protected reserves simply aren’t large enough to support them. Like many other threatened canid species including the Ethiopian wolf, the African wild dog is also susceptible to diseases carried by domestic dogs like canine distemper and rabies. Reports suggest that there may be just 3,000 to 5,500 dogs left in the wild.
I hope that if enough people learn about these wonderful dogs then they will fall in love with the species too and hopefully, they will get the protection they need.
If you want to tell the world about your favourite species why not start by getting involved in our ARKive Loves Species Campaign on Twitter? You could even send a Valentines ecard to the one you love and encourage them to share their own favourite species too.
Claire Lewis, ARKive Media Researcher