Just a century ago their numbers were close to half a million, but today less than 5,000 African wild dogs remain, making them one of the continent’s most endangered species. If you witness a pack hunting on safari in one of the four countries where the big-eared, multicolored dogs still roam, consider yourself lucky. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about African wild dogs.
Painted dogs, also called African wild dogs, are a species that is only found in Africa. They trace their ancestry back 40 million years.
Zimbabwe’s Painted Dog Conservation, which also runs a rehab facility for sick and injured pups, estimates there are between 3,000 and 5,000 wild dogs left on the continent.
Painted dogs once roamed freely through 39 African countries. Today they are found in Tanzania, Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe, where the Painted Dog Conservation is located.
At the beginning of the 20th century there were around 500,000 painted dogs in Africa. Today there are less than 5,000.
Famous for their large, round ears and multicolored coats, painted dogs have lots of similar characteristics to their domestic dog cousins, including that special brand of canine cuteness.
The wild dog population was decimated during the last 100 years thanks to “unfounded myths leading to human persecution, and tragic injuries when their paths cross our roads,” the Painted Dog Conservation reports.
Today the Painted Dog Conservation is working hard to educate locals and visitors about helping integrate these wild dogs back into Africa. Drive slowly when you see a painted dog sign. Many dogs are killed by speeding automobiles.
Like their domestic cousins, painted dogs are social animals, and have a rich and cooperative pack life. I witnessed a pack hunting at Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, and it was quite a special experience.
The painted dog, or lycaon pictus, has a distinct evolutionary line and is one of the African continent’s rarest species. The greatest number of wild dog packs are found in Zimbabwe, where you’ll have the best chance of seeing them on safari. A small number of painted dogs also still live in South Africa, Botswana and Tanzania.
Painted dog lovers will want to visit the Painted Dog Conservation in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. It runs a rehab facility for sick and injured dogs that aims at healing pups before returning them to their packs in the wild.