African Wild Dog
African Wild Dogs
The African Wild Dog, or Lycaon pictus, is an extremely endangered wild dog that used to be found all over the continent of Africa. Now they are mostly found in sub-saharan Africa, especially Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique. Unlike all the other members in the dog (canidae) family, African wild dogs only have four toes on each foot. They have red, black, brown, white, and yellow mottled fur, giving them their scientific name, Lycaon pictus, or painted wolf. African wild dogs are great predators, and usually hunt and eat medium-sized prey like gazelles and antelopes. They are also extremely fast, and can go more than 44 mph. African wild dogs live in packs of about 10 animals, but sometimes there can be up to 60. These packs are usually headed by one breeding pair. These two can have 2 to 20 pups, which are communually taken care of by the entire pack. The pack takes care of themselves, and they will often give food to other members, and help weak and sick dogs. African wild dogs are very social.
Why Are They Endangered?
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the African wild dog as endangered, and their population trend is decreasing. The main reasons African wild dogs are endangered is hunting and killing by humans, habitat loss, diseases and competition. Many African wild dogs are killed when they come into contact with humans. When humans move into their territory to farm, they often have less prey to eat and are forced to prey on livestock. The people then may kill them to protect their livestock. However, the people often depend on the livestock and farming, so they can’t let the dogs kill the livestock. This is similar to what is happening to other wild predators, such as cheetahs. African wild dogs are also in danger from viral diseases like rabies, and from competition from larger animals also threatened by habitat loss, like lions.
The ways in which people are conserving the African wild dog are also helping other species that are becoming endangered in the same ways. For example, the Cheetah Conservation Fund is trying to help farmers protect their livestock from predators, including cheetahs and African wild dogs, by using innovative new ways, like specially trained dogs, to protect both the farmers and the predators. Another example is the wildlife corridors and national parks that are being created. These are spaces where the African wild dogs can live without human interference. Wildlife corridors also connect habitat that is fragmented by humans, which stops wild dogs from having to pass through human territory. These National parks and wildlife corridors benefit many other species besides wild dogs, so making them for the wild dogs also helps many other animals.
What Can You Do?
Organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund are trying to create and protect especially important wildlife corridors which connect habitat between game reserves. They and other organizations like the Cheetah Conservation Fund try to reduce the conflict between wild dogs and people, while still helping both. You can raise money and donate to WWF and CCF, and you can raise awareness for the African wild dog, an extremely endangered animal who many people don’t know about, or confuse with a hyena.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “African Wild Dog.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 17 Mar. 2020, www.britannica.com/animal/African-hunting-dog.
“African Wild Dog.” WWF, World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwildlife.org/species/african-wild-dog.
*all pictures used with permission, and/or taken from the sites above.