Today we are looking at a fascinating breed of canine and learning some fascinating African Hunting Dog Facts. These are serious predators.
In fact, they are elite when it comes to hunting prey in Africa.
THE Dog of Africa
Table Of Contents
The African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), also known as the African painted dog and the African hunting dog, is a wild canine that is native to sub-Saharan Africa and is also known as the African painted dog and the African hunting dog.
It is the largest wild canine in Africa and the only extant member of the genus Lycaon, which is distinguished from Canis by a dentition that is highly specialized for a hyper carnivorous diet and by the absence of dewclaws.
It is also the only member of the genus Lycaon that has survived to this day. Estimates place the total number of adults in the wild at 6,600 (including 1,400 mature individuals), divided into 39 subpopulations, all of which are threatened by habitat fragmentation, human persecution, and disease outbreaks.
The African wild dog has been categorized as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List since 1990, owing to the fact that the biggest subpopulation is believed to consist of less than 250 individuals.
A specialist diurnal predator of antelopes, it captures its prey by chasing them until they become exhausted. Its natural adversaries are lions and hyenas; the former would kill the dogs if they have the opportunity, while hyenas are frequent kleptoparasites on the dogs’ prey.
The African wild dog, like other canids, regurgitates food for its young, but it also does it for adults as part of the pack’s social life, which is a fundamental aspect of the pack’s social life.
The young are given the opportunity to feed on carcasses first.
Despite the fact that it is not as well-known in African folklore or culture as other African predators, the lion has long been revered in numerous hunter-gatherer societies, including that of the predynastic Egyptians and the San people.
The African wild dog is the largest and most robust of the African canids, with a thick, substantial build. When standing at shoulder height, the species is 60 to 75 centimeters (24 to 30 inches) tall.
Its head and body are 71 to 112 centimeters (28 to 44 inches) long, with a tail length ranging from 29 to 41 centimeters (11 to 16 in). Adults have a bodyweight ranging from 18 to 36 kg (40 to 79 lb).
Dogs from East Africa weigh an average of 20–25 kg (44–55 lb), whereas in southern Africa, males supposedly weigh an average of 32.7 kg (72 lb) and females an average of 24.5 kg (44 lb), according to reports (54 lb).
They are only outsized by the grey wolf species complex when compared to other extant canids in terms of body mass. Females are typically 3–7% smaller than males in height and weight.
According to the genus Canis, the African wild dog is a slender and tall dog with outsized ears and no dewclaws as compared to other members of the species. Usually, the middle two toepads are fused together.
Its dentition differs from that of Canis in several ways, including the degeneration of the last lower molar, the narrowness of the canines, and the proportionately enormous premolars, which are the largest of any carnivore other than hyenas in terms of size relative to body size.
This cusp is found on the heel of the lower carnassial M1, which increases the shearing power of its teeth and, consequently, increases the speed with which prey can be devoured.
These two canids have this characteristic, which is referred to as a “trenchant heel,” as well: the Asian dhole and the South American bush dog.
The skull of a canid is shorter and wider than that of other canids, which is unusual.
The fur of the African wild dog differs greatly from that of other canids in that it is entirely composed of stiff bristle hairs with no underfur, as opposed to the fur of other canids. With age, it gradually loses its fur, with older individuals appearing almost completely bare.
African wild dogs can recognize each other at distances of 50–100 m (160–330 ft), indicating that their color variety is extreme.
This may aid in visual identification, as African wild dogs can recognize each other at distance.
The color of the coat varies according to where it is found, with examples from the northern African region being mostly black with little white and yellow spots, while those from the southern African region are more vibrantly colored, boasting a combination of brown, black, and white.
The trunk and legs of the species exhibit the majority of the species’ coat patterning. There is little diversity in the face markings, with the muzzle being black and progressively fading into brown on the cheeks and forehead as the animal grows older.
A black line runs across the top of the head, changing to a blackish-brown color towards the back of the ear. A brown teardrop-shaped mark can be found below the eyes in a few instances.
The color of the back of the head and the neck is either brown or yellow in color.
White patches appear behind the forelegs on certain individuals’ specimens, with some individuals’ specimens having totally white forelegs, chests, and throats.
White at the tip, black in the middle, and brown at the base are typical colors for the tail. Some examples are completely devoid of the white tip, while others may have black fur beneath the white tip.
Some of these coat designs are asymmetrical, with the left side of the body often having markings that are distinct from those on the right side.
The African wild dog has unusually strong social ties, which are greater than those of sympatric lions and spotted hyenas. As a result, solitary life and hunting are exceedingly rare in the species; in fact, solitary living and hunting are quite rare in the species.
It lives in permanent packs of two to up to 30 adults and yearling pups, which can range in size from two to up to 30 adults. The average pack size in Kruger National Park and the Maasai Mara is four or five adults, whereas the average pack size in Moremi and the Selous is eight or nine adults.
Larger packs, however, have been reported, and it is possible that brief aggregations of hundreds of animals assembled in response to the yearly migration of massive springbok herds in Southern Africa.
Males and females have different dominance hierarchies, with the latter typically being led by the eldest female in the group of males. Initially, males may be led by the oldest male present, but older males might be replaced by younger specimens; as a result, some packs may have elderly males who once pack leaders.
In most cases, the dominant pair monopolizes the breeding process. Males of the species remain with their natal pack, whereas females disperse. This is in contrast to the majority of other social animals (a pattern also found in primates such as gorillas, chimpanzees, and red colobuses).
Furthermore, males tend to outnumber females in any one pack by a factor of three to one. In order to avoid inbreeding, dispersing females join other packs and evict some of the resident females who are linked to the other pack members.
This prevents inbreeding and allows the evicted individuals to form new packs and reproduce.
Males disperse seldom, and when they do, they are almost always rejected by other packs that already contain males in the same territory.
In spite of being possibly the most sociable canid, the African wild dog does not display the intricate facial expressions and body language found in the grey wolf, which is most likely due to the African wild dog’s less hierarchical social structure.
Furthermore, while intricate facial expressions are vital for wolves in re-establishing relationships with their family groups after extended periods of separation from their packs, they are not as important for African wild dogs, which tend to stay together for much longer periods of time than wolves.
Afro-Asian wild dog populations in East Africa do not appear to have a consistent breeding season, but populations in Southern Africa tend to breed between April and August. When a female is in estrus, she is closely escorted by a single male, who serves to keep other members of the same sex at bay.
A lack of or very brief (less than one minute) copulatory tie, which is characteristic of mating in most canids, has been documented in the African wild dog.
This may be an adaptation to the presence of larger predators in its area. The gestation period lasts 69–73 days, with an average time between pregnancies of 12–14 months between each cycle of reproduction. It is estimated that a single female may generate enough pups to start a new pack every year, more than any other canid.
Litters of African wild dogs typically contain six to sixteen pups, on average, indicating that a single female can produce enough young to start a new pack every year.
Because the amount of food required to feed more than two litters would be impossible for the ordinary pack to get, breeding is rigorously limited to the dominant female, who has the potential to murder the pups of subordinates if she does not have enough food.
Following the birth of her pups, the mother stays close to them in the den while the rest of the pack goes out hunting. Pack members that approach the pups are often chased away by her until the pups are three to four weeks of age, at which point they are able to eat solid food.
The pups are weaned from their mother’s milk at the age of three weeks and are suckled in the wild. They are weaned from their mothers at the age of five weeks, during which time they are fed regurgitated meat by the other members of the pack.
By seven weeks, the pups have begun to take on the appearance of an adult, with considerable lengthening in the legs, nose, and ears, among other things.
At eight to ten weeks of age, the pups are taken from their mother and are allowed to accompany her on hunting trips with the rest of the pack.
When a kill is taken, the youngest pack members are allowed to eat first, a privilege that terminates until they reach the age of a yearling.
Some Interesting Facts About African Hunting Dogs
Family Is Everything #1
They live in close-knit social groupings and care for injured, ailing, or elderly members by giving them food until they are able to heal on their own.
Experts In Hunting
When it comes to hunting, African Wild dogs have a success rate of approximately 80%, which is higher than that of lions and leopards. This is due to their ability to work in groups.
They tag team when chasing prey and when the lead dog tires, a fresher member of the pack takes over thus wearing down their prey. it’s highly effective and very, very clever. No other Canine pack hunts like this.
Their ability to adapt to changing situations during a hunt, as well as their coordinated nature and good communication, allows them to bring down considerably larger animals, such as wildebeest, during the course of a hunt.
Family Is Everything #2
They are also breeders who work together. Although only the alpha pair is responsible for mating, the entire pack is equally responsible for protecting the cubs, with both males and females taking turns caring for the tiny pups.
These guys can run up to 44mph which is almost as fast as a Greyhound!
Up to 11 years of age which is great considering their environment.
The Right To Roam
African Wild dogs do not seem to congregate in one place, except when they are denning. It is possible for them to have quite huge territories ranging between 400 and 1500 square kilometers in size.
These animals have the ability to travel large distances and have been reported to go up to 50 kilometers in a single day. Therefore, wild dogs require enormous territories in order to thrive, which is why human encroachment on their habitat is such a terrible threat to their survival.
Can Not Be Domesticated
If you are thinking that these dogs can become pets, then think again. They can’t. They are extremely intelligent and perfect hunting dogs that have such a high prey drive that they can simply not live outside of the pack.
Unfortunately, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, African Wild dogs are endangered and their population is declining. The primary danger to wild dog populations is habitat degradation and fragmentation of wild dog territories.
Their contact with humans grows as a result, and they are frequently murdered by livestock farmers or poisoned when they fall prey to unlawful snares placed by poachers to catch other game.
Additionally, interaction with domestic animals results in the transmission of infectious diseases such as canine distemper, which is highly contagious and may easily wipe out an entire pack due to its contagious nature.
If you ever encounter one on the plains of Africa, avoid eye contact. Eye contact is a challenge and they will be reading and willing and able to take you on. Plus, if you see one then there are others very close by and you can’t see them yet….but they can see you!
The best advice is to back away slowly and get to safety if you can. These guys are serious predators and NOT to be messed with.