African Wild Dog

Communal canines face extinction

What
The African Wild Dog, Lycaon pictus, also known as the African Hunting Dog, Cape Hunting Dog, or Painted Wolf, is a carnivorous mammal of the Canidae family.

It is the only species in the monotypic genus, Lycaon. They are, as their name indicates, found only in Africa, especially in scrub savanna and other lightly wooded areas.

About
African wild dogs are the size of medium domestic dogs and weigh between 16-36 kg and measures 61-76cm high. Their coats are mottled in shades of brown, black and beige. They have large, rounded ears and dark brown circles around their eyes.

The dogs differ from wolves and other dogs in that they have 4 toes instead of 5.

Wild dogs are social, communally hunting carnivores, gathering in packs of around 10 individuals, but some reports packs numbering more than 40. They are opportunistic predators that hunt medium sized ruminants such as gazelles.

Why?
Co-operative care for their pups is one of the most fascinating aspects of the natural behaviour of wild dogs. ie they share between themselves the caring of all pups, irrespective of who is the mother.

They also talk to each other when they hunt.

And in a sprint, African wild dogs can reach speeds of more than 70km/h.

Some reports also say the African wild dog has the strongest bite of any mammal.

Your chances of seeing one in the wild
African wild dogs are possibly the continent's most endangered predator. Lycaon is classified as 'Threatened' by the IUCN but reclassification to 'Endangered' has been recommended.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY
African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) yawning, Okavango Delta, Botswana.
© WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY

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