The African wild dog is the largest wild canine in Africa and the only extant member of the genus Lycaon. It is threatened by habitat fragmentation, human persecution, and disease outbreaks.
African wild dogs have distinctive coats mottled with black, brown, white, and yellow.
The Kruger National Park in South Africa is home to a wide variety of this animal.
African Wild Dog facts for Kids
- They can run at speeds between 37-43 miles per hour
- They can live up to 13 years.
- They eat gazelles, antelopes, rats, and birds
- They can hear far away thanks to their rounded, large ears.
- They’re most active in the cold morning and evening.
Classification and Evolution
The African Wild Dog is a medium-sized species of canine found across sub-Saharan Africa. It is said to be the most sociable of all the canines, living in packs of around 30 individuals.
Anatomy and Appearance
The African Wild Dog is a canine species with mottled fur, large ears, a long muzzle and long legs, and four toes on each foot. It also has a large stomach and a long, large intestine.
Distribution and Habitat
African Wild Dogs are found naturally roaming the deserts, open plains, and arid savanna of sub-Saharan Africa. They require large territories to support the pack, and their population has decreased rapidly.
They are mostly found in savanna and arid zones but will also travel through the scrub, woodland, and montane areas in pursuit of prey. It has been found at great altitudes, including the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
They once ranged across much of sub-Saharan Africa but have been largely exterminated in North and West Africa and greatly reduced in number in Central Africa and northeast Africa.
The African wild dog hunts by approaching prey silently, then chasing it in pursuit, clocking at up to 66 km/h (41 mph) for 10 – 60 minutes.
It takes two to five minutes to kill medium-sized game, and it might take up to half an hour to bring down larger animals like wildebeest.
Behavior and Lifestyle
African Wild Dogs are highly sociable animals that gather in packs of 10 to 30 individuals. They communicate with one another through touch, movement, and sound.
They live in permanent groups of two to twenty-seven adults and one-year-old pups. Males stay with their birth pack while females leave, and males rarely leave their birth pack.
Even though the African wild dog might be the most social canid, it doesn’t have the gray wolf’s complex facial expressions and body language. This is likely because the African wild dog’s social structure is less hierarchical.
Also, African wild dogs stay with their pack for much longer than wolves.
Reproduction and Life Cycles
African Wild Dog packs usually have one breeding pair, and the female gives birth to between 2 and 20 pups. The entire pack looks after the pups until they are old enough to become independent.
Diet and Prey
The African Wild Dog is a carnivorous and opportunistic predator that hunts large mammals in large groups, supplementing their diet with Rodents, Lizards, Birds, and Insects.
A species-wide study showed that five species were the most regularly selected prey, including
- Greater Kudu
- Thomson’s Gazelle
- Cape Bushbuck
- Blue Wildebeest
They also eat the following when if available
- Bat-eared Foxes
- Spotted Hyenas
Predators and Threats
The African Wild Dog has few natural predators within their native habitats and is most commonly found in National Parks. Farmers are the biggest threat to the African Wild Dog.
Loss of habitat provides possibly the biggest threat to the world’s biodiversity since human activity is inflicting enormous changes on the natural environments on which species depend. This makes habitat loss the most likely candidate for the most significant concern.
Relationship with Humans
The African Wild Dog has experienced a drastic decline in population due to the loss of much of their natural habitat and hunting by farmers.
Conservation Status and Life Today
It is estimated that there are fewer than 5,000 African Wild Dogs still wandering sub-Saharan Africa today owing to the precipitous decline in population that has taken place over the past several years, notably in the past few years.