The gregarious and often misunderstood African Wild Dog (also called Cape hunting dog or painted dog) are considered Africa’s most efficient predator. They play a key role in regulating prey species and therefore, the vegetation cycle.
1. African Wild dogs are strongly bonded!
They live in tightly knit social groups, and look after injured, ill or ederly members, bringing them food until they recover.
2. African Wild dogs are very successful hunters.
Thanks to their teamwork, when it comes to hunting, African Wild dogs have a success rate of around 80%, which is higher than lions and leopards. The coordinated nature of the pack and its effective communication allows them to adapt to changing scenarios during a hunt and they can bring down much larger animals, including wildebeest.
3. African wild dogs are all about babies.
They are also cooperative breeders. Only the alpha pair does the breeding but the entire pack shares responsibility for protecting the cubs, with both males and females babysitting the young pups.
4. African Wild dogs are nomads.
Except when denning, African Wild dogs do not remain in one area. They have very large territories which can span between 400 and 1500 square kilometres. They can roam over long distances and have been known to travel up to 50 km in a single day. As a result, wild dogs require large territories to thrive which is why human encroachment on their habitat is such a devastating threat.
5. African Wild dogs are endangered!
Unfortunately, according to the IUCN red list, African Wild dogs are endangered and the population trend is decreasing. The principal threat is habitat loss and fragmentation of wild dogs territories. It increases their contact with humans and they are regularly killed by livestock farmers, poisoned, and caught in illegal snares set by poachers meant to catch other game. Also, contacts with domestic animals is resulting in transmission of infectious diseases like canine distemper, which can easily wipe out any entire pack because it’s so contagious.