Not only are carnivores critical to the long-term viability of ecosystems, their presence is also a strong indicator of healthy prey populations. As they face a combination of threats — retaliatory killings by livestock keepers, declining prey base, habitat decline and human conflict — conserving ecologically viable and functional populations of large carnivores in their natural habitats is paramount but challenging.
Famous for its sizeable populations of elephants and large carnivores, Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe is also home to one of the most elusive predators on the continent: the endangered African wild dog. About 150 wild dogs—also known as “painted dogs” for their colorful, patchy coats—live in Hwange and its environs. As more people settle around Hwange, the African wild dog population faces increasing pressure in the form of habitat fragmentation and human–wildlife conflict.
Because we love our supporters, and we know our supporters love Africa's unique wildlife, we wanted to give you a special treat this Valentine's Day.
Africa’s wild dogs are a genuine anomaly among the continent’s large predators. For one thing, they’re canids—a doggy minority in a landscape dominated by large cats and hyenas. They hunt in packs like wolves but aren’t very closely related, being the only species of the genus Lycaon.
What's the fuss about wild dogs? Well, it is quite a big deal. Wild dogs are endangered, almost disappearing from Tanzania's northern parks. It is easier to find a leopard, cheetah and lion on the same day than a wild dog. These “painted” dogs, roam far and wide covering great distances - here today but gone tomorrow, not to be seen again for months or years.