Wild Dogs of Africa

        Like many animals in Africa, the Wild Dog of the open plains is endangered. The African Wild Dog’s Latin name is Lycaon pictus or painted wolf which seems to fit this uniquely color patched pattern displayed on the canine’s coat and a bushy white-tipped tail meant for communicating like flags during hunts. These long-legged hounds use their bat-like ears and massive jaws to hunt rodents, birds, antelopes, and sometimes wildebeests.Wild Dogs are social carnivorous foragers with pack territories ranging about 900 square miles of either dense forests or open plains. Humans are the only predator to these endangered dogs who have been at risk for over 20 years.

        African Wild Dogs are very social animals and can have packs of 6 to 20 or more dogs, the pack is lead by a monogamous breeding pair which can have a litter of 2 to 20 pups that are cared for by the entire pack. Instead of mature males leaving the pack, it turns out the females leave while the males stay and watch over the pups while the others hunt. After a hunt, the adults will regurgitate partly digested meat for the pups to eat. These social dogs act in a similar way as human families, they share food, assist weak and ill members, and show little to no aggression towards one another. The fact that they are not always aggressive shocks some people who believe Wild Dogs to be savages. These canines have many ways of communicating, like touching and other actions. But they mostly vocalize with each other, they use a short bark of alarm in case of danger, a bell like call to contact one another, and they whine and twitter each other in greetings. These canines usually begin a hunt with a rallying howl to excite one another about the hunt and work in cooperative groups to bring down their prey. But because of Wild Dog populations going down, they  don’t have enough hunters to bring down sufficient prey and might not manage to bring back enough food for the pack or the pups.

        A pack’s pups are probably the most important members of the pack because the fact that they survive will ensure the pack’s survival, more members and younger hunters are important. But most of the time with even large litters, very few pups survive because dens can flood, the lack of food, and exposure to disease. Wild Dogs are susceptible to disease from domestic animals.There are also human caused reasons why Wild Dogs are endangered, like agriculture, settlements, roads, and farmers. Human settlements have limited the amount of space Wild Dogs have to roam, therefore, there are more occurrences where these canines meet domestic animals and their owners. Farmers who fear for their animals hunt and poison these canines who are blamed for leopard and hyena caused deaths of livestock. At one point in time, rangers thought Wild Dogs were bloodthirsty raiders of livestock and scatterers of wild herds, so they hunted them as well.

        In conclusion, the social, family dog of the open plains are becoming less and less, and it hasn’t been getting better, due to paranoid farmers. Only about 6,600 remain in the wild and in some areas they are close to extinction. If this continues we might lose the African Wild Dog forever.

Wild Dog Populations: In red