Common Name: African Wild Dog
Also known as: African Painted Dog, Cape Hunting Dog
Scientific Name: Lycaon pictus
Estimated number in the wild: 3000
Average life span: Approximately 12 years
Group Name: Pack
Size: 25 to 45 inches
Weight: 40 to 80 pounds
The African Wild Dog is an endangered canine that dwells primarily in sub saharan plains and savannah areas. Wild Dogs are also known as painted dogs (hence their Latin name lyacon pictus) owing to their striking and irregular blotched coat of fur.
African Wild Dogs live in large packs of up to 20 animals. Packs are fiercely territorial and confrontation between rival packs is commonplace.
Packs are led by a monogamous breeding pair, and the entire pack cares for the pups beard by the alpha female.
The pack is a highly tuned hunting machine, and dogs within the pack cooperate to hunt antelope such as impala, and at times have been known to kill animals as large as Wildebeest.
Wild Dogs communicate through a series of clicks and whistles that sound more like birdcalls than barks. Wild Dogs have typically longer legs than their canine cousins, and while ordinary dogs have a five toed paw, Wild Dogs have only four on each paw.
Wild Dogs are classified as endangered and only an approximate 3000 Wild Dogs are estimated to live in the wild. The majority of these animals reside in the north of Botswana in the Okavango Delta and within the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
Wild Dog numbers have declined over the years owing primarily to human encroachment on their land and hunters killing the dogs to protect their livestock.
Where and when to see them
Undoubtedly the best place to view Wild Dogs in the wild is within the Okavango Delta, particularly north towards the Linyanti area. This wild and secluded area provides the perfect secluded environment for the Wild Dog, and it is here where the species thrives. A few camps in the area are lucky enough to have resident packs of Wild Dogs located close to the lodge areas. Wild Dogs can be seen at anytime of the year, however, the winter months provide better viewing opportunities owing to the lack of foliage that provides a clear line of view.