5 Interesting Facts | African Wild Dogs

 
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African Wild Dog Lycaon pictus

African Wild Dogs, aka African hunting dogs, African painted dogs, painted hunting dogs, or painted wolfs, are one of Africa’s lesser known animals and somewhat misunderstood. Due to their being critically endangered, with only 5,000 left in the wild, sightings are rare outside of specific areas.

That said, they are notably Africa’s most efficient predators. Effectively working together they boast an 80% success rate with hunts; far higher than lions, for example, whose success rate is around about 30%.

African Wild Dogs are incredibly social animals and they are devoted to the friendship and comradery of their pack. They form extremely tight bonds, showing care and support to all pack members regardless of age and fitness. Intelligent communication helps them to efficiently hunt, understand family roles and locate safety.

The best places to see African Wild Dogs, in the wild, are: Laikipia, Kenya; Luangwa Valley, Zambia; Kruger National Park, South Africa; Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe; Okavango Delta, Botswana; Liuwa Plains, Zambia and Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa.

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Did You Know?

  1. African Wild Dogs are an endangered species. Once there were around 500,000 living in the wild, now there are only 5,000. Primary threats to wild dogs are hunting and habitat loss. Competition with larger carnivores such as lions and spotted hyenas is a major problem. Wild dogs are also persecuted by farmers protecting their livestock. They are even prone to picking up diseases from domestic animals.

  2. Unlike most other canids, which have 5 toes on each paw and 42 teeth, the African Wild Dog has only 4 toes and 40 teeth. Some teeth are specially adapted and different to other canids, to enable the rapid shredding of carcasses, quite often when the prey is still alive. This tactic ensures the competition have less of chance of stealing the kill.
  3. There is no rivalry when feeding. Captured prey is shared among all members of the clan, including those that did not take part in the hunt, even those pack members who may be ill or weak.
  4. When prey is scarce, wild dogs will routinely traverse their home range in 2-3 days covering 25 miles (40km) a day. Some have been known to cover over 43 mile (70km) a day.
  5. Home ranges for successful packs can cover as much as 580 to 900 square miles (950-1500km2), however ranges can also overlap by anything between 10-80%.

And, a recent study by the Royal Society claims that African Wild Dogs may even vote "by sneezing" when it comes to deciding when to stop resting and head off.  Read the full report - Sneeze to leave.


Photograph African Wild Dogs firsthand

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