Quite rarely seen in its natural habitat today, the wild dog is one of the most critically endangered animal species in Southern Africa.
Wild African dogs are sometimes referred to as hunting dogs and painted dogs. Every dog has its own distinctive characteristics – no two are the same, making it easier for different dogs to be marked. It is constantly in competition with humans, and particularly with livestock farmers, as a hunter and meat eater that needs an extensive habitat. African wild dogs are one of the most successful hunters among the large carnivores; their intended prey rarely escapes.
Some believe the wild dog’s way of killing its victims to be unnecessarily harsh, because the animal has a pessimistic attitude towards it. In the wild, the biggest killers of wild dogs are lions. As a result, the breed has been exterminated from wide areas of Africa and is one of the most seldom seen creatures on the continent today. The species is limited to Africa, choosing a short-grassed or bushy open grassland area where there is water and where there is space for it to run its prey down. Wild dogs used to be more common in the sub-region of the continent, but today they are located mainly in national parks and game reserves.
You can see wild dogs while on a safari in the Kruger National Park.
Wild dogs, nomadic by nature, keep on relocating: so one should hope to see them in any suitable place where food is, and no hindrance is fenced. Currently, wild dogs are being reintroduced to many game parks, and there is tracking of the success of the operation.
It eats meat as a carnivorous animal, choosing the fresh killing of large or small mammals. Wild dogs only hunt for food. They are considered to be mean, but they actually kill their prey as easily as any other predators. The herd chases prey and pulls down smaller creatures. Although the dogs try to bite and tear at it, the larger prey can keep moving. In both cases, the prey dies quickly, typically due to trauma or blood loss. Wild dogs depend on ‘simple’ prey primarily the young, ill, and elderly.
Wild African dogs travel in packs. Pack numbers vary from six dogs to twenty. There is no violence within the pack and very little hostility within the hierarchy of the pack, unlike the hostility they show against their prey. The whole pack helps with the rearing of youngsters. Both parents tend to feed the young and other members of the pack will go out to hunt and will regurgitate food for pups and the caring mother upon returning to the den. If a leading member within the pack sneezes, it is possible that the ‘sneeze’ vote will result in an attack. Wild dogs ‘sneeze’ to make decisions about where to hunt.
Even though the WWF wants to ensure that these animals don’t go extinct, there is no space to let these animals really roam free.