The wild dog has undergone a dramatic recent decline in population to the stage that few countries now support viable populations. Wild dogs are still moderately abundant in southern and eastern Africa.
Living in groups of 10 – 20 they are efficient hunters using the open plains or savannah and depend on their excellent eyesight and stamina to run down their prey. They usually take the smaller antelope but packs have been known to take animals as large as kudu or waterbuck.
The pack has a communal breeding burrow and the whole pack co-operate in bringing food which they regurgitate for the young who first go through a begging ritual. There is often a preponderance of male pups in a litter. They live for 10 – 12 years in the wild. Wild dogs live in socially complex packs composed of several related adult males and one or more related adult females originating from another pack. Often only the dominant bitch will rear pups successfully.
Directed hunting is the leading cause of decline. Wild dogs are undeservedly perceived as voracious killers of game and livestock. Disease including canine distemper, rabies and anthrax have decimated many populations.
African wild dogs use their sense of sight, not smell, to find their prey. They pay no attention to wind direction and they do not use cover when approaching their prey. They can run up to 55 kmph for several kilometres. In eastern Africa, they mostly hunt Thomson’s gazelles, but they will also attack calves of zebra,warthog, impala, and the young of large antelope such as the gnu or wildebeest.