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The African Wild Dog

The African Wild Dog

The African Wild Dog

    •    The scientific name for the African wild dog  is Lycaon pictus
    •    Its name – meaning “painted wolf” – comes from the magnificent colouration of wild dog’s coat. Each individuals coat pattern is unique, similar to a fingerprint and is a mosaic of tawny, black and white. There is huge variation in coat colour in different parts of Africa
    •    They live in social groups of closely related individuals called “packs” averaging 7-8 adults.
    •    Packs are territorial and boundaries are maintained through scent marking
    •    Only the alpha male and female breed, and litter sizes vary from 5 – 20 (average 8-10) pups. Breeding is seasonal - in Southern Africa wild dogs will “den” from May to August
    •    Occasionally a beta female in a pack will breed and have a litter, but always after the alpha female has bred.
    •    Packs hunt and reproduce cooperatively as an extended family group.
    •    During the denning season, all members of the pack will return to their den after a successful hunt and regurgitate meat for the pups.
    •    Pups start to travel widely with the adults at 3-4 months of age.
    •    Home ranges of wild dogs are large, often close to 1000km2.
    •    They eat predominantly middle size prey animals (10 – 35kg) but can kill larger prey if pack sizes are large enough. 
    •    They are listed as “endangered” on the IUCN Red List.
    •    The three regional conservation planning exercises that have taken place since 2007 have estimated that there are fewer than 1000 packs of wild dogs, in increasingly fragmented landscapes (insert map of range)
    •    They are no threat to humans – although its curiosity can be mis-interpreted as a possible attack!
    •    They will prey on livestock but generally only when there is limited natural prey available.

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 11, Dec 2012)

Read more about the region in our destination guide:


Read More about Wild Dogs
African Wild Dogs - The Best Team in Africa
The Hwange painted dog project
Protecting wild dog in Luangwa
Zambezi key to African wild dog’s future
Wild dog – the picture in Zambia
The African Wild Dog
Building Boundaries with Scent