The African wild dog, has had an incredibly difficult past. These amazing animals were hunted to the brink of extinction, being believed for a long time to be little more than pests. Though never fully recovered, viable populations remain in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Tanzania, with smaller less stable populations in surrounding areas.
Due to their extremely wide ranging habits, they regularly come into human wildlife conflict, and being hyper carnivorous, eating meat exclusively, they are heavily persecuted in areas with livestock farming.
Education is helping to save the species and many governments, as in Botswana, now offer compensation for any livestock killed by wildlife in an effort to stop people from taking vigilante action against the perpetrators. The founding of many non profit organisations, linked to the protection of the African wild dogs is also going a long way to improving our understanding of them and how we might better protect them in the future.
Recent studies observations have shown that a lot of what we know about these animals is a little off the mark. It was always believed that within African wild dog packs, the Alpha pair, were the only animals to breed. In some areas, tests to experiment with use of contraceptives on the Alpha pair to control the population failed, the subordinate animals became the mating pairs! There have also been reports of animals denning more than once a year, which hasn’t been recorded much in the past.
All in all, education is the key to saving this species, lest it go the same way as the Northern white rhino and the Western black rhino.
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Discover more fascinating facts about African wild dogs.