African Wild Dog

Sub Saharan Africa

Scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Canidae
  • Subfamily: Caninae
  • Tribe: Canini
  • Genus: Lycaon
  • Species: L. pictus

The African wild dog is a social creature, with a lean, powerful frame and a steely determination for chasing down its prey. Their yellow and black fur makes them particularly distinctive, to one another as well as to us; individuals can recognize each other over long distances, making them highly effective in teams.

They are one of the most social predators in Africa, as well one of the most successful: pack members work together to wear prey to the ground, chasing them to the point of exhaustion, nipping at their hindquarters until they stumble. About 80% of hunts are successful, and the youngest members of the pack are rewarded with the first bites. Pups too young to hunt are fed by the returning adults, who regurgitate meat for them to feast on. Packs will hunt larger prey, like wildebeest, antelope and warthogs, while smaller animals such as rodents or porcupines are hunted by single individuals.

The African wild dog is a quick animal, reaching up to speeds of 44 miles per hour, they are not overly large, an average adult can weigh up to 70 pounds and can reach a length of 76 inches.

Once widespread across Africa, their numbers in 2012 were a mere 6,600 adults. African wild dogs are largely extinct in North and West Africa, having significant populations only in southern and south-eastern Africa.

One significant reason for their decline is due to human interference with the African wild dog’s habitat. Habitats have been fragmented by farming and other human activities, reducing the amount of crossbreeding between different populations. In addition, accidental killings from traps and road accidents add to the number that are deliberately shot or poisoned by those protecting their livestock.

African wild dogs are susceptible to predation by lions, competition from hyenas and infectious diseases; local extinctions are common enough that considerable effort is necessary to prevent human activity causing a global extinction.

Estimated African Wild Dog population changes between 2010 and 2016

The graph above illustrates the current African Wild Dog population trendfrom 2010 to 2016. Thepopulation figures illustrate that almost 50% of the population hasbeen lost since 2010, from anestimated 11,800 African Wild Dogs to just 6,600 in the year 2016.The graph also shows that thepopulation decreased averagely by 1,000 dogs per year.

The colour differences represent the number of adult dogs in comparison tothe number of juveniledogs. The adult dog population has decreased from 2010 to 2016 ata much quicker rate than that ofjuvenile dogs. This represents a concern for the opportunity for more AfricanWild Dogs to breed, asbreeding pairs become fewer. With a declining adult dog population,this causes complications forthe population to steadily increase as though African Wild Dogs averagelygive birth to 10 pups pertime, young dogs do not reach adult age until around 1 year.

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