African Wilddogs

The Wild Dog: Very rarely seen in its natural habitat today, the wild dog is one of southern Africa's most highly endangered mammal species. As a hunter and meat eater requiring an extensive habitat, it is constantly in competition with humans, and particularly with livestock farmers. Some regard the wild dog's method of killing its prey excessively cruel, so there is a negative attitude towards the animal. In the wild, lions are the main killers of wild dogs. As a result, the species has been exterminated from large parts of Africa and today it is one of the continent's most rarely encountered animals.

Size: Stands 60 to 85 cm at the shoulder; Weight: 45 to 65 pounds.

Habitat: The species is restricted to Africa, preferring a habitat with open short-grassed or bushy grasslands where there is water and where it has space to run down its prey. In the sub-region of the continent it used to be more widespread, but today is found only in the national parks and other game areas.

Nomadic by nature, wild dogs keep on the move: thus one can expect to see them in any suitable area where food is plentiful and fencing no hindrance. Wild dogs are currently being reintroduced to several game parks, and the progress of the operation is being monitored.

Diet: Carnivorous; As a carnivorous species, it eats meat, preferring fresh kills of large or small mammals. Wild dogs kill only for food. They have a reputation for being cruel, but in fact they kill their prey as swiftly as most other predators. Prey is chased by the pack and smaller animals are pulled down. Larger prey may keep running while the dogs continue to bite and tear at it. In both cases prey dies quickly, usually from shock or loss of blood. Wild dogs concentrate on 'easy' prey, mainly the young, sick and old.

Lifespan: 4 to 6 years in the wild

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