Climate change is devastatingly impacting African wild dogs, which are listed as endangered species. As temperatures rise across the continent, the animals are having difficulty finding food and are having to delay giving birth. This poses a serious threat to the pack’s survival, as their numbers are already low, and any delay in reproduction could put them at risk of extinction.
Present once throughout Africa; these wild dogs now have vanished from most of their range because of local tribes hunting them to protect their domestic animals and livestock. Moreover, their numbers are also decreasing because of the rapid habitat loss and their increased susceptibility to certain diseases like rabies and canine distemper. Conservationists have tried to raise awareness among local people, but it still needs more attention.
The largest of 39 populations has less than 250 mature adults out of 1400 mature individuals in total. Half of the approximately 5,000 specimens are in stronghold populations (Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Botswana, South Africa), and half are scattered elsewhere.
Did you know?
- The species is now considered to be endangered, and the current population is estimated to be around 6600 in 39 dotted subpopulations.
- Recent phylogenetic analysis recognizes the African wild dog as a distinct clade that includes the dhole-Asian wild dog.
- Their coat pattern and their footprints are unique to each individual, just like our fingerprints.
- Lycaon pictus, the scientific name meaning “painted wolf,” refers to the animal’s uneven, mottled coat, which has splotches of red, white, tan, and yellow fur.
- Contrary to most dogs, who have five toes on their front feet, African wild dogs have only four toes per foot.
- With their cursorial ability and endurance in communal hunting, they can hunt prey much larger than themselves.
- The 1991’s extinction of the wild dogs in the Serengeti was controversial; the much-debated hypothesis for this decline was that researchers’ interventions/handling (during research studies) caused outbreaks of disease induced by stress.
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Terrestrial / Aquatic
Altricial / Precocial
Polygamous / Monogamous
Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic
Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal
Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd
Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore
Migratory: Yes / No
Domesticated: Yes / No
Dangerous: Yes / No