Blue Lizard’s Animal of the Week

The African Wild Dog

 Wild dogs out scouting for Antilope

The sparse woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa is home to the African Wild Dog, these long legged canines also go by the names African hunting dog or Cape/painted hunting dog. These dogs resemble wolves in their nature by their pack-orientated behavior when hunting. Lead by a monogamous breeding pair where the female has a litter of up to twenty pups. Hunting wolves have a patching mottled coat that is a mixture of black, red, brown and white. The have large rounded ears to listen out for prey and other environmental stimuli. When it comes to rearing the young the whole pack contribute to raising the pups. The life span of these carnivores is up to 11 years and they can weigh anything from 18 to 36 kg. 

Pack of African wild dogs out with the new puppies.

As a pack, hunting wolves have a strong sense of social cohesion as they share food and even nurse weak or unwell members. They hunt tactically in their cooperative packs working together to trap and corner prey such as antelopes, depending upon the size of the pack they also tackle larger mammals such as wildebeests. These animals are up there with the most efficient hunters in Africa, as targeted prey rarely escapes, this is because of their impressive communication skills. Their large range of vocalizations includes a short bark of alarm, a rallying howl and a bell-like contact call that can be heard over long distances. They are also powerful animals that can run up to 35 miles per hour. The diet of an African hunting dog is also supplemented with rodents and birds to gain important vitimins. With the expansion of human settlements, these animals are often hunting by farmers who fear the loss of their livestock. The shrinking off their home and disease spread from domestic animals has caused their numbers to decrease rapidly making the species endangered.

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