Lycaon pictusKingdom Animalia Phylum ChordataClass Mammalia Order CarnivoraFamily CanidaeGenus Lycaon
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Common names: Cape hunting dog, painted hunting dog

Length: 85 - 141 cm
Weight: 18 - 34 kg
The African wild dog is a very sociable, and unique breed. Although you may love your furry dog friend, these dogs are nothing like the ones that you cuddle with at night. Their ears are quite prominent, and their coat is like no other. Their fur is wiry with patches of the colors yellow, grey, black and white. This coat gave rise to the African wild dog’s scientific name of Lycaon pictus, which means ‘painted wolf-like animal’ in Greek. The hair is shorter on their limbs and body and a little longer on their neck. The specificness of each African wild dog’s coat has been used by researchers to identify individuals. They have a thin and muscular body, bushy, white-tip tail and long legs. The males are slightly larger than the females. These dogs are also very unique, in that there are only four, rather than five, toes on the front feet. Their ears help them to pick up long distance vocal signals.
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Diet and Hunting
When it is not breeding season, African wild dogs are nomadic, meaning that they move about from place to place in the search for food. Their typical home ranges can be as large as 5,000 square kilometers, but they are often limited to areas that are less than 200 square kilometers. African wild dogs are carnivorous and hunt their prey by working together in a group. Working in these groups allows them to hunt prey that is much larger than them, such as antelope and ungulates, as well as kudu bulls and wildebeest weighing up to 250 kilograms. Hunting in groups will also allow for a higher success rate than that of other large carnivorous species. Packs go hunting at dawn and dusk, in order to avoid other predators such as lions. When hunting, the caught prey is pulled to the ground and the group begins to feed; pups in are allowed to eat first.
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Wild dogs hunting a warthog.
Habitat/ Where are they found?
The African wild dog reside in a range of habitats, including the plains, semi-desert, savannah, woodlands and upland forest. Although scarce, these dogs were formerly present throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Today, they are bound to southern and eastern Africa. Potentially these dogs could exist in Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. African Wild Dog are very scarce. With only about 400 wild dogs in all of South Africa, Kruger supports pack of these unique animals.
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African wild dogs use many vocalization techniques in order to communicate. They use a short bark to alarm others, as well as a rallying howl, and a ringing contact call that can be heard over long distances. These dogs also twitter and whine.

African wild dogs are probably the most sociable of the candids. Within a pack there are usually dogs of the same sex, rather than individuals of the opposite sex. Packs range from 2 to 27 dogs; new packs form when subgroups of the same sex (usually siblings) break up and accompany those of a subgroup with the opposite sex. When it is time to mate, only the dominant male and female will breed. The dominant female will give birth to pups, which can occur throughout the year, however, it is common between March and June. African wild dogs have the largest litter size of any candid, averaging about ten pups. Pups are born within dens and will remain there until they are mature enough, which is around three months. The mother will stay with her pups for a while after birth; as the pup gets older, all pack members help with feeding and ‘baby sitting’ the young dogs. The adolescent pups are fully independent at 16 to 24 months, but they stay with their pack. Female dogs are more likely to disperse, usually leaving in a sub-group with their sisters once they reach two years old.

How many are left?
The current population range of African wild dogs is estimated to be no more than 3,000–5,500. Populations of African wild dog are terribly vulnerable to sudden environmental change.
Why are they extinct?
The African wild dog is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List. Due to recent habitat fragmentation, which alters the habitat creating spatial separation, African wild dogs are lacking large home ranges to support viable populations. All of this has caused a population decline in these dogs. African wild dogs are often persecuted wherever they come into contact with humans. Road accidents and accidental traps have also contributed to a decline in population. Unfortunately, these wild dogs are susceptible to disease; specifically those that are carried by domestic dogs such as canine distemper and rabies. African wild dogs have to compete with other large carnivores of the African savanna, so competition and predation also keep populations of these dogs low.

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Conservation Efforts
African wild dogs depend on large home ranges to support viable populations. So the key to their survival is large areas of steady land. In order to prevent dangerous human contact, their habitats need to be to be greater than 10,000 square kilometers. Many of the larger reserves cannot fully support such obligations. Informing others about the prevention of persecution is crucial in protecting this amazing animal. Conservation groups, such as the African Wild Dog Conservancy, help and protect these animals. The African Wild Dog Conservancy (AWD Conservancy) is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit that seeks to conserve wild dogs through scientific research and education.
For more information on African wild dogs:
Works Cited
"African Wild Dog | African Wildlife Foundation." African Wildlife Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2013.
"African wild dog photo - Lycaon pictus - G4168 - ARKive." ARKive - Discover the world's most endangered species. N.p., n.d. Web.
15 Apr. 2013. <>.
"African Wild Dogs, African Wild Dog Pictures, African Wild Dog Facts - National Geographic." Animals - Animal Pictures - Wild
Animal Facts - Nat Geo Wild - National Geographic. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2013.
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