Their scientific name, Lycaon pictus, is derived from the Greek for wolf and the Latin for painted and refers to the dogs’ mottled coat of black, brown, white, russet and yellow.
They live in large packs forming strong social bonds, with all pack members helping to care for the young – as well as old, sick or injured – regurgitating food for them and licking wounds clean. They maintain those bonds through intensive groupal grooming and vocalisations.
Wild dogs hunt in packs, pursuing their prey at speeds of around 35mph for three miles or more and are highly successful – nearly 80% of all hunts end in a kill.
Usually only the highest ranking male and female in a pack breed, producing very large litters of up to 20 pups, though 10 is the average.
*International Union for Conservation of Nature is the world’s main authority on the conservation status of species.
Carnivorous – a broad range of prey, favouring antelopes such as impala, kudu, springbok, and gazelles
Present across many habitats, particularly woodlands, savannah, shrublands and grasslands
Several wild dog populations, particularly those in West and Central Africa, face extinction. They require extensive home ranges, and face stiff competition from lions and hyaenas in many protected areas. Elsewhere habitat fragmentation is contributing to the continued decline of their populations, fueled by persecution by livestock farmers and susceptible to disease outbreaks.