10 things you didn’t know about African Wild Dogs!

  1. With less than 7,000 remaining in the wild, African wild dogs are Africa’s second most endangered large carnivore! You can find them in 14 countries, however viable populations can be found in only 8 of those: Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana and Kenya. This means we need to protect them more than ever!
  1. You might hear them called ‘Painted Dogs’, a name which comes from their scientific name, ‘Lycaon pictus’, which translates as ‘painted wolf-like animal’. Their patterns of black, white and brown coats are unique to each dog and even differ from one side of their body to the other.
  1. African wild dogs are often mistaken for other animals (nope, they are not the same as hyena!), but they are most easily identifiable by their large, rounded, ‘Micky Mouse’ ears and their bushy tail which is often white.
  1. Wild dogs are highly social canids that are always found in a pack. Sizes vary and can reach up to 40 individuals, led in the hierarchy by a monogamous breeding pair. They work together to raise the puppies, share food and assist weak or ill members. 
  1. Over 20 puppies can be produced in a litter! But the average is seven. Puppies are produced by the alpha female and born in a den where they are reared for 3 weeks before emerging and joining the pack. 
  1. Wild dogs are not scavengers – they are hunters. Usually preying on antelope, they can target larger prey such as wildebeest if they are weak or injured. They use their skill, speed and endurance to hunt prey at dawn and dusk. 
  1. African wild dogs are fast reaching speeds of 60km per hour and they can maintain these distances over 3-4km. They are a wide-ranging species which means they need vast area of intact habitat to sustain a viable population. 
  1. There is historical evidence of African wild dogs near the top of Mount Kilimanjaro! These days, they typically roam the open plains of sub-Saharan Africa but there is evidence that they have also roamed mountains and coastal areas in the past. 
  1. There is hope for protecting African wild dogs and conserving their habitat. Through measures such as securing and rebuilding tracts of landscape, reducing the illegal bushmeat trade, working with anti-poaching teams and engaging with local communities, we can increase the number of dogs and ensure they live long lives. 
  1. Everyone can have a part to play in the conservation of African wild dogs! There is a role for anyone who is keen to support our work – from Adopting A Pack, to sponsoring a Conservation Scholar or even helping us to increase awareness globally and building a network of conservationists. We love to talk to anyone who connects with our vision, so reach out!

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