African Wild Dogs have disappeared from much of their former range as their habitat has been fragmented and altered by human activity. Many African Wild Dogs are killed by cars as they try to cross roads or are trapped by farmers who consider them vermin. They also suffer from diseases such as rabies and distemper.
Conservation programs to preserve national parks, remove traps, warn drivers and educate local people are helping to protect the species.
Amazing African Wild Dogs
The coat of each African Wild Dog has a unique pattern of yellowish, black and white markings. They have large, rounded ears, short muzzles and uniquely shaped teeth for slicing through meat. Although they show dog-like behaviour such as friendly play-fighting, begging and greeting, they are only distantly related to domestic dogs.
African Wild Dogs are very sociable animals that live in small packs. The pack is made up of related animals, but males in the pack are unrelated to the females. This occurs because young females disperse from the family pack after about two years, while the males remain. Within each pack, a dominant male and female are the sole breeding pair. Females give birth in an underground den, and there are up to ten pups in each litter.
Hunting cooperatively in packs allows these dogs to catch prey as heavy as 200 kg. In some areas, smaller antelope, hares, lizards and even eggs are important food items. Some packs preferentially hunt zebras even though they are difficult to catch; it appears that this is a skill that is learned by each new generation.
African Wild Dogs compete with lions and hyenas for food and are sometimes preyed upon by lions.