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African wild dog

The African wild dog is a social predator and one of Africa’s and the world’s most efficient hunting mammal. They differ from most other social mammals through forming packs consisting mainly of related males, rather than the better-known groups of closely related females, such as the lion pride.

Threat category according to IUCN
  • Least
    concern
  • Near
    threatened
  • Vulnerable
  • Endangered
  • Critically
    endangered
  • Utdöd
  • Class Mammals (Mammalia)
  • Order Carnivores (Carnivora)
  • Family Canids (Canidae)
  • Genus Lycaon
  • Species Lycaon pictus
Size

The African wild dog weighs 20–40 kg, with males somewhat larger than females.

Ecology

The species prefers grassy steppes, savannah and open woodlands.

Food habits

The African wild dog is the only canid with a completely carnivorous diet. Prey species can be as large as zebras and wildebeest. The pack members, particularly the males, will assist the alpha pair by providing meat and feeding the pair’s young cubs regurgitated meat.

Life

The African wild dog will live for 10–12 years.

Threat category

Intense hunting, diseases and habitat loss have caused a drastic decline in the population and the African wild dog is today one of Africa’s most endangered species with less than 5 000 individuals remaining in the wild.

Reproduction

The pack consists of 10–20 individuals and is led by a dominant alpha pair. Only this pair will reproduce. The mating period is not seasonal. The female is pregnant for approximately two and a half months after which she gives birth to 2–16 cubs. However, the cub mortality is high.

Did you know?

Older animals teach younger individuals how to best hunt such large prey as zebras and wildebeest. This often requires one animal to hold on to the muzzle of the prey while another dog grabs the tail. The rest of the pack will then assist by opening up the abdomen or otherwise harm the prey.

Other information, such as the location of water, good hunting grounds etc., also seems to be transmitted from one generation to the next. This corresponds to what we humans refer to as “culture”.

Baringo giraff > < African savannah elephant