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African Wild Dog

African Wild Dog Distrbution Map CC BY-SA 3.0 Nrg800

African Wild Dog Distrbution Map CC BY-SA 3.0 Nrg800

One of the most unique and interesting creatures on the continent is the African Wild Dog. The African Wild Dog is about the size of a medium sized domestic animal and is remarkable in many ways. It looks a lot like a regular dog. They are mottled in appearance, with a mixture of brown, black and beige coloring. Their fur is coarse and thick.

Their ears are large and very rounded in comparison to the domestic dog. They have brown circles around both eyes. African Wild Dogs are alert, canny and remarkably resilient.

They look somewhat like a wolf but differ in a few ways. One way is that the African Wild Dog has only four toes rather than five. The average African Wild dog will live between 10 and 12 years. They are about 50-80 pounds in size and 2 feet to 3 feet in height at the shoulder.

The African Wild dog lives in the savannah in Africa. They love the grasslands and the open woodlands and feed from antelope, zebras, springbok and impala as well as hunting the gazelle and the wildebeest.

Wild dogs hunt as a group and may bring down animals that are two or three times their height and ten times their weight as a group. They are small and often preyed upon by larger cats and other animals and may have to defend their prey after they have killed it.

The wild dogs hunt in packs and the packs often have more males than females. The packs can contain ten to twenty members. The more large the pack the more likely that the pack will survive. The pack includes a dominant male and a dominant female animals and their offspring, as well as other members of the pack and their offspring. Sometimes during spring migration more than 100 wild dogs will be found together in a migrating pack but they typically do not remain as a pack of animals.

 

African Wild Dog - Photo CC BY-SA 3.0 Greg Hume

African Wild Dog, Photo CC BY-SA 3.0
Greg Hume

Usually only the alpha male and female reproduce but pups are sometimes seen from other females. The litter might contain as many as 15-16 puppies but their mortality rate is quite high so the species is threatened dramatically at this time.

Presently only about 2,000 and 5,000 of these dogs remain in the wild, mostly in game preserves or national parks. They are threatened by poachers who use their pelts, by loss of habitat and by domestic animal diseases as well as by poisoning and hunting from humans.

They are listed as a critically endangered species and real help is needed if the wild dog is to survive as a species into the next decade..