Why African Wild Dogs Are Endangered

Wild dogs were once widely distributed throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Today viable populations exist in only a few countries (as shown in red above; the yellow circle towards the top indicates probably extant). Habitat fragmentation and encroachment, persecution (conflict with livestock and game farmers), accidental deaths by snares set for game, speeding vehicles, and infectious diseases (rabies and distemper) are the main causes for their decline.

On a global scale, the needs of a growing human population place ever-increasing pressure on finite natural resources, shrinking the living space for wildlife, making conflict inevitable, and contributing to biodiversity loss. Biodiversity loss is also exacerbated by climate change. These two interrelated problems threaten life on Earth. Overconsumption is another major threat. It has been estimated that we are currently overusing our planet's natural resources by at least 75% or the equivalent of living off 1.75 Earths!

Interesting Facts about Wild Dogs

Order: Carnivora
Lycaon pictus


mottled coat of yellow, black, white, and brown
Head and Body Length:
76–123 cm
17–36 kg, avg. 25 kg
Shoulder Height:
61–78 cm
longitudinal black mark on forehead; large, round ears; bushy, white-tipped tail


Time of Mating in southern African usually around June, more variable in East Africa
Gestation Length:
69–72 days
Litter Sizes:
avg. approx. 8
Age of Sexual Maturity:
1 year, but usually sexual suppression results in later age of reproduction

Home Range

Size and Movement:
423–1318 km²; except when denning, packs are nomadic, covering large areas; many live in unprotected areas or range outside park boundaries


woodland and dense bush to open plains

African wild dogs are not domestic dogs gone feral or closely related to wolves. In fact, they are in their own genus, Lycaon. Learn more about their evolutionary relationship to other canids on a phylogenetic tree.