The African Wild Dog is a carnivorous mammal of the Canidae family, found only in Africa, especially in scrub savanna and other lightly wooded areas.
It is also called the Painted Hunting Dog, African Hunting Dog, the Cape Hunting Dog, the Spotted Dog, or the Painted Wolf in English.
The African Wild Dog hunts in packs. Like most members of the dog family, it is a cursorial hunter, meaning that it pursues its prey in a long, open chase. Nearly 80% of all hunts end in a kill. Members of a pack vocalize to help coordinate their movements. Its voice is characterized by an unusual chirping or squeaking sound, similar to a bird.
After a successful hunt, hunters regurgitate meat for those that remained at the den during the hunt, such as the dominant female and the pups. They will also feed other pack members, such as the sick, injured, or very old that cannot keep up.
The African Wild Dog’s main prey varies among populations but always centers around medium-sized ungulates, such as the Impala. While the vast majority of its diet is made up of mammal prey, it sometimes hunts large birds, especially Ostriches.
A few packs will also include large animals in their prey, such as wildebeests and zebras. Hunting larger prey requires a closely coordinated attack, beginning with a rapid charge to stampede the herd. One African Wild Dog then grabs the victim’s tail, while another attacks the upper lip, and the remainder disembowel the animal while it is immobilised. This behaviour is also used on other large dangerous prey, such as the warthog, the African Buffalo, giraffe calves, and large antelope—even the one-ton Giant Eland. The dogs often eat their prey while it is still alive. This disemboweling was a reason to regard the African Wild Dog as repulsive, but recent studies have shown that prey of the African Wild Dog die more quickly than prey of the lion and the leopard, which kill their prey by grabbing the throat and suffocating the animal.
Remarkably, this large-animal hunting tactic appears to be a learned behavior, passed on from generation to generation within specific hunting packs, rather than an instinctive behaviour found commonly within the species. Some studies have also shown that other information, such as the location of watering holes, may be passed on in a similar fashion.
The African Wild Dog is endangered by habitat loss and hunting.
It uses very large territories (and so can persist only in large wildlife protected areas), and it is strongly affected by competition with larger carnivores that rely on the same prey base, particularly the lion and the Spotted Hyena. Lions often will kill as many wild dogs as they can but do not eat them. Hyenas usually follow them to steal their kills. One on one the hyena is much more powerful than the Wild Dog but a large group of Wild Dogs can successfully chase off a small number of hyenas because of their teamwork.
It is also killed by livestock herders and game hunters, though it is typically no more (perhaps less) persecuted than other carnivores that pose more threat to livestock. Most of Africa’s national parks are too small for a pack of wild dogs, so the packs expand to the unprotected areas, which tend to be ranch or farm land. Ranchers and farmers protect their domestic animals by killing the wild dogs. Like other carnivores, the African Wild Dog is sometimes affected by outbreaks of viral diseases such as rabies, distemper, and parvovirus. Although these diseases are not more pathogenic or virulent for wild dogs, the small size of most wild dog populations makes them vulnerable to local extinction due to diseases or other problems.
“African Hunting Dog …….” was featured in Indigenous to East & Southern Africa Group.
“African Hunting Dog …….” was featured in phoDOGraphy