Species: African wild dog (Lycaon pictus)
Status: Endangered (EN)
Interesting Fact: African wild dogs hunt in groups and can bring down wildebeest weighing up to 250 kg!
The African wild dog was previously found across sub-Saharan Africa, but now only fragmented populations remain in southern and eastern Africa. Their scientific name means ‘painted wolf-like animal’ in Greek, referring to their yellow, grey, black and white coat. African wild dogs are highly sociable and exhibit an unusual social system. Within the pack, dogs of the same sex are closely related to each other, but not to dogs of the opposite sex. Only the dominant male and female will breed, and the litter size averaging 10 pups is the largest of any canid. African wild dogs cooperatively hunt prey, and this enables them to bring down animals much larger than themselves. When a kill is made, pups in the pack are allowed to eat first.
African wild dogs require large home ranges to support viable populations, and recent habitat fragmentation has caused population declines. These wild dogs are often persecuted wherever they come into contact with humans. They are susceptible to disease, particularly those carried by domestic dogs such as canine distemper and rabies. Protecting large areas of valuable habitat and preventing persecution through education are vital to the conservation of this unique canid.
Find out more about the African wild dog and its conservation on the The African Wild Dog Conservancy website.
See images, videos, and learn more aboutthe African wild dog on the ARKive.
Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Researcher