is full of incredible animal species, however, many of these are terribly endangered and may one day become nothing more than a memory, existing only in the history books. This is the first in a series of blogs taking a closer look at some of Africas more endangered species and presenting you with all the facts on just what makes them great. First up is the African wild dog.
The wild dog is of the genus Canidae and is second only to the wolf as the largest of its type, standing at around 30 inches tall at the shoulder; the wild dog has an impressive lean body, built for the hunt. It stands alone among its genus as the only canid without any dewclaws on its front legs.
The wild dog lives in the African savannahs as well as in sparsely wooded areas. It dwells in packs that can number up to 40 members. Within the species the males and females differ mainly by size, males tending to be 3 to 7 times larger. The wild dog packs quite a bite, and within the genus Carnivora (a group of meat eating mammals) it ranks as number one in owning the strongest bite relative to its size. Ouch!
The wild dog is considered a very social animal, at least with its own kind. Cooperation is essential for survival, without it the wild dogs would not be able to hunt effectively or, for that matter, coexist peacefully.
Their pack behaviour may be deemed quite different to that of other wild creatures of the bush. The wild dog practices a very passive attitude to other group members and instead of attempting to exert dominance adopts a submissive nature and prefers to beg enthusiastically rather than engage in a fight.
This team working ability serves them well on the hunt. Capable of reaching speeds up to 34 miles per hour not only do you have to be the faster prey you also have to be the fittest. During the chase the packs front runners will slow to the back when they tire, while the reserves take over the lead, this process is repeated until the prey becomes exhausted and can no longer run from its pursuers.
At this point prey can meet quite a nasty end. Wild dogs are notorious for the often violent nature of their victims death; disembowelling prey while it is still running, they are also known for eating it alive, grisly to say the least. Yet, without such prowess and instinct the wild dog would not be able to stay alive.
The wild dog community is one based on dependency; some of those that stay behind at the den could not survive were it not for the spoils of the packs hunters. Upon return the hunters regurgitate the kill to feed those too old to hunt, the injured and of course wild dog pups.
Pups are born in dens, abandoned by other creatures of the savannah, with an average litter comprising 10 pups. Between the ages of 8-11 months old the baby wild dogs become capable of tackling small prey and it is not long after that, only another few months, before they are truly capable hunters.
Why are they considered endangered?
Wild dogs continue to find themselves at threat by the intrusion of man upon their territory; poached and caught in terrible snare traps and road kills, like so many other species in Africa, its struggle to survive is now greater than ever before; with an estimated 3000-5000 left in the wild. 23 countries in Africa consider the wild dog extinct.
The wild dog emits the same elementary regency and beauty as the vast continent on which it dwells and there, more than any other, is reason to save it, for without the presence of such a creature as the wild dog Africa is left very much without its character.
What are the best areas to see wild dog on safari?
and Kruger National Park
in South Africa
s South Luangwa
The Selous region
Niassa Reserve of Mozambique
Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe