African wild dog

Lycaon pictus

IUCN Status: Endangered

Diet

These dogs hunt most successfully as a pack killing and sharing meals at the place of kill. An ideal meal would be an impala (an African antelope of the grass plains & scrub) weighing in at about 30 - 40 kgs. They can kill animals up to twice their size and weight usually ill wildebeest or zebra but if food is scarce they kill smaller animals such as scrub hares which they eat themselves.

Breeding

In a pack of wild dogs it is only the alpha male and female that breed. Anything from 2 to 12+ pups may be born after a gestation of about 70 days. The young are usually born in old ardvark holes and like most mammals are blind at birth. They are weaned at about 2 months of age and are taken with the pack from about 6 months old deserting the den.

At The Zoo

We have two litter sisters here from Port Lympne in Kent. They are part of the European endangered species breeding programme and could be used for breeding at any time into the future if required.

Habitat

African hunting dogs are found in grasslands, savannahs and open woodlands. They are widely distributed across the African plains and are not found in jungle areas. Their habitat also includes semi-desert to mountainous areas south of the Sahara Desert in Africa.

Fun Facts

The latin name scientists have given this dog Lycaon pictus literally means"painted wolf"! Hunting dogs share their kill with pups or ill pack members by regurgitating part of the partially digested kill! Unlike domestic dogs they do not urinate to scent mark as they are wanderers without any real territory.

Behaviour

Africn wild dogs have suffered very large declines in the recent past and pack sizes now average beween 7 - 15 individuals comapred to over 100 on occaisions. The males and females have separate dominance hierachies and the pack will care not only for the young but for wounded and ill anaimals. Hunting usually takes place early morning or as the evenin draws in and the prey is chased until it is wears down where it is torn apart or disemboweled on the run inthe case of bigger animals.