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Species Profile: African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus)

Species Profile: African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus)

Species Profile: African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus)

By Amelia Pfeifle (University of Vermont)

 

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African wild dog by the Khwai River

 

I live in an open or wooded savannah but never in dense forest. I can live with 6-20 others but on average there are ten of us together. We communicate through a large range of vocalizations, everything from an alarm to rallying call is shared. Scent also plays a part in communication – it may have evolved to be so strong to meet our dependence on group living. You will rarely see me alone. I am diurnal, and am most active in the mornings and evenings when it is not too hot. I am most certainly a carnivore. I depend on coordinated group hunting to eat. I really love impala, reedbuck, and springbok, but I eat a variety of prey. Our gestation period is just over 2 months. Our young are born in numbers around ten in shelters among dense grass. Members of our pack all take part in feeding them. Males remain in the groups they are born into, and females will wind up leaving the group. Our groups consist of mostly males – 2 to 3 males per female is our average ratio. I can weigh anywhere from 55 to 70 pounds and my average shoulder height is 30 inches. Males are just slightly larger then females. I have 4 toes, unlike the 5 toes dogs have. I have a striking pattern of broad dark brown, black, yellow/tan and white patches that are unique to me as an individual. My ears are broad and rounded. Sometimes I see these odd loud motor things full of curious faces hoping to catch a glimpse of me . we have been referred to as the wolves of Africa. I am an African Wild Dog!

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