African Wild Dogs are animals found in the sub-Saharan Africa. Pretty large for the size of normal dogs, they are hypercarnivores, meaning over seventy percent of their diet consists of meat. Another example of a hypercarnivore would be the lion. Now many people will wonder what is so special about a dog breed, because we have all seen a couple of them many times over. Technically they are not wrong, but there are a few things about the African Wild Dogs that put them on an entirely different level as compared to the street dogs or domestic dogs that you may have seen in real life or on the internet. Here are a few facts that may blow your mind about this fantastic hunter.
The Painted Wolf
The scientific name of the African Wild Dogs is “Lycan pictus” which translates to “Painted Wolf.” Considering the diet of the animal that we discussed before, it doesn’t really seem weird or unusual that it is compared to the wolves. They are called “painted wolves” because of the markings on their body. Apparently, no two African Wild Dogs will have the same markings, thus making them easily identifiable.
The above mentioned word goes around a lot on Instagram statuses nowadays. Well, the African Wild Dogs are the ones who truly define this word, unlike the humans. The territory of the African Wild Dogs can be as large as 1,500 square kilometers! That’s about 150,000 hectares or 370,000 acres. Technically they own more land than either of us could even dream of owning, so it almost makes one wish they were born an African Wild Dog instead. If that is not enough, they keep wandering with or without their packs.
In the packs, the pups that are able to eat solid food are generally given priority at kills. In fact, the priority is more than that given to the dominant pair. Moreover, once the pups grow up, the males remain with their own packs, however the females have to leave and join another pack. This sounds a bit like patriliny, where the women leave the house when the men remain with their parents. So dogs aren’t that different from humans after all.
The African Wild Dogs have a nice, strategic way of hunting, but it begins with a sort of hunting ceremony. The ceremony is to make them bond well, and begins with each member going around and vocalizing and touching others, which gets them excited and readies them for hunting. During the hunt, there are always two teams, where one of them runs fast behind the prey whilst the other falls behind. Then, when the front team tires out, the ones behind overtake them and take their place. This repeats till the prey tires out. Thus, it is a strategic, cooperative method of hunting that the African Wild Dogs use.
Certain Degree of Equality
The African Wild Dogs are not aggressive when it comes to sharing the food. The food is shared even with those who were not involved in the hunt. Also, the entire African Wild Dog pack is collectively responsible for taking care of the cubs. Moreover, both, the male as well as the female, are involved in the process of babysitting the cubs. So a certain degree of equality does prevail in the packs.
According to the IUCN, the African Wild Dogs are endangered, with only about 6600 adults left, of which only 1400 are fully grown. This may be due to the fact that they were considered pests earlier, or unwanted animals. Although thanks to the NGOs and other organizations, these animals have now lost that identity to some extent. In Zimbabwe, they are now considered a symbol of pride.