The Wolf Intelligencer


African Painted Wolf / Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus)

Cape wild dog (Lycaon pictus pictus)
East African wild dog (Lycaon pictus lupinus)
West African wild dog (Lycaon pictus manguensis)
Shari River hunting dog (Lycaon pictus sharicus)
Somali wild dog (Lycaon pictus somalicus)

Common Names: African wild dog, African hunting dog, Cape hunting dog, painted hunting dog, painted dog, painted wolf, painted lycaon

Overall population:

Physical description:

Original range – Sub-Saharan African continent
Current range – Zimbabwe, Zambia,  South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Botswana, South Africa, Tanzania, South Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Senegal, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Chad

Habitat / Ecology / Prey:



Prey – Greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros), Thomson’s gazelle (Gazella thomsonii), Impala (Aepyceros melampus), bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus), Hares (Lepus spp) , wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus), Grant’s gazelles (Gazella granti),  kongoni (Alcelaphus buselaphus cokei), dikdiks (Madoqua kirkii)

“This bimodal range follows that of optimal wild dog pack sizes based on energetic costs and benefits. Greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) and Thomson’s gazelle (Gazella thomsonii) are killed by wild dogs wherever they coexist and are significantly preferred. Impala (Aepyceros melampus) and bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus) also are significantly preferred… For its size, the wild dog consumes more meat per day than any other carnivore (3.04 kg–Mills and Harvey 2001). Wild dogs have been recorded preying on species as small as hares (Lepus—Creel and Creel 2002) and bat-eared foxes (Otocyon megalotis—Rasmussen 1996) up to the size of juvenile African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) and eland (Taurotragus oryx—Creel and Creel 2002). Within this range of species, however, wild dogs are thought to concentrate on prey weighing between 10 and 120 kg (Creel and Creel 2002).”

Prey preferences of the African wild dog Lycaon pictus (Canidae: Carnivora): ecological requirements for conservation. Hayward MW, O’Brien J, Hofmeyr M, Kerley GI. Journal of Mammalogy. 2006 Dec

“Of 50 kills observed, Thomson’s gazelles (Gazella thomsonii) made up 54 percent, newborn and juvenile wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) 36 percent, Grant’s gazelles (Gazella granti) 8 percent, and kongoni (Alcelaphus buselaphus cokei) 2 percent.” (Tanzania, Africa 1967)

Prey selection and hunting behavior of the African wild dog. Estes RD, Goddard J. The Journal of Wildlife Management. 1967 Jan

“African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) are able to feed primarily on ungulates weighing >100% of their own individual mass and, in most populations, wild dogs specialize on such large prey. However, we show that wild dogs living outside protected areas in northern Kenya fed primarily on Kirk ‘ s dikdiks (Madoqua kirkii), small antelope weighing just 15% of wild dog body mass. We estimated that dikdiks constituted 70% of the prey biomass consumed by wild dogs.” (Kenya, Africa 2007)

African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) can subsist on small prey: implications for conservation. Woodroffe R, Lindsey PA, Romañach SS, Ranah SM. Journal of Mammalogy. 2007 Feb

“Although livestockwere abundant throughout the study area, depredation was exceedingly uncommon (approximately one attack per 1000 km2peryear) and the costs of tolerating wild dogs were very low (US $3.40/wilddog/year) where wild prey remained, even at low densities.However, where wild prey were seriously depleted, wild dogs killed livestock repeatedly, and the cost of sustaining them rose to US$389/wilddog/year. Hence, although wild dogs had a negligible economic impact in the region, their impact was locally severe.”

Livestock predation by endangered African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) in northern Kenya. Woodroffe R, Lindsey P, Romanach S, Stein A, ole Ranah SM. Biological conservation. 2005 Jul

Non-Prey and Other Sympatric Predators / Carnivores – Spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta), Lion (Panthera leo),

“Across six ecosystems including Selous, there were strong negative correlations between wild dog and hyaena densities (r = −0.92; p = 0.01) and between wild dog and lion densities (r = −0.91; p = 0.03). Hyaenas out‐numbered wild dogs by ratios ranging from 8:1 to 122:1. Ratios of lions to wild dogs ranged from 3:1 to 21:1. The diets of hyaenas and wild dogs overlap extensively; those of wild dogs and lions show less overlap.”

Limitation of African wild dogs by competition with larger carnivores. Creel S, Creel NM. Conservation Biology. 1996 Apr

Interesting / Unique behaviors:

“Not all rallies result in collective move-ments, for reasons that are not well understood. We show that the probabilityof rally success (i.e. group departure) is predicted by a minimum number ofaudible rapid nasal exhalations (sneezes), within the rally. Moreover, thenumber of sneezes needed for the group to depart (i.e. the quorum) wasreduced whenever dominant individuals initiated rallies, suggesting thatdominant participation increases the likelihood of a rally’s success, but is nota prerequisite.”

Sneeze to leave: African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) use variable quorum thresholds facilitated by sneezes in collective decisions. Walker RH, King AJ, McNutt JW, Jordan NR. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 2017 Sep

Legal and Cultural Background:


African Wild Dog Conservancy (Kenya)
Botswana Predator Conservation Trust (Botswana)
Harnas Wildlife Foundation (Namibia)
The Endangered Wildlife Trust (South Africa)
Painted Dog Conservation (Zimbabwe)
Painted Wolf Foundation
Painted Dog Research Trust (Zimbabwe)
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation – Painted Dogs (England)
Endangered Wolf Center – African Painted Dogs (St. Louis, MO, USA)
African Wildlife Foundation – African Wild Dogs
World Wildlife Fund – African Wild Dogs
Wildlife Conservation Network – African Painted Dogs
African Wildlife Conservation Fund (Zimbabwe)
Nikela – African Wild Dogs
Flora and Fauna International – African Wild Dog
The Tony Fitzjohn George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust (WildlifeNOW)
African Wild Dog Watch
Wild Track – Non- Invasive Wildlife Monitoring
Wildlife Vets International – African Painted Dogs
Save The African Wild Dog
TwoCan Conservation

Taxonomic/Genetic Information:

Comparative genomics provides new insights into the remarkable adaptations of the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus). Chavez DE, Gronau I, Hains T, Kliver S, Koepfli KP, Wayne RK. Scientific reports. 2019 Jun


Further Reading

IUCN Red List – Lyacon pictus (African Wild Dog)

African Wild Dogs, Facts and Photos – National Geographic

What’s in a name? Why we call them painted wolves – BBC Earth
5.1 Africa’s Vanishing Predator The African Wild Dog – Ohio Pressbooks

Journal / Scientific Publications:

Anatomical and morphometric evaluation of the orbit, eye tunics, eyelids and orbital glands of the captive females of the South African painted dog (Lycaon pictus pictus Temminck, 1820)(Caniformia: Canidae). Paszta W, Klećkowska-Nawrot JE, Goździewska-Harłajczuk K. Plos one. 2021 Apr


In this study, we present the first data concerning the anatomical, morphometrical, histological and histochemical study of the orbit, eye tunics, eyelids and orbital glands in South African Painted Dogs (Lycaon pictus pictus). The study was performed using eyeball morphometry, analysis of the bony orbit including its morphometry, macroscopic study, morphometry, histological examination of the eye tunics and chosen accessory organs of the eye and histochemical analysis. The orbit was funnel shaped and was open-type. There was a single ethmoid opening for the ethmoid nerve on the orbital lamina. The pupil was round, while the ciliary body occupied a relatively wide zone. The iris was brown and retina had a pigmented area. The cellular tapetum lucidum was semi-circular and milky and was composed of 14–17 layers of tapetal cells arranged in a bricklike structure. In the lower eyelid, there was a single conjunctival lymph nodule aggregate. One or two additional large conjunctval folds were observed within the posterior surface of the upper eyelids. The superficial gland of the third eyelid had a serous nature. The third eyelid was T-shaped and was composed of hyaline tissue. Two to three conjunctival lymph nodul aggregates were present within the bulbar conjunctiva of the third eyelid. The lacrimal gland produced a sero-mucous secretion. A detailed anatomic analysis of the eye area in the captive South African Painted Dogs females showed the similarities (especially in the histological examination of the eyetunics and orbital glands) as well as the differences between the Painted dog and the other representatives of Canidae. The differences included the shape and size od the orbita with comparison to the domestic dog. Such differences in the orbit measurements are most likely associated with the skull type, which are defined in relation to domestic dogs. The presented results significantly expand the existing knowledge on comparative anatomy in the orbit, eye and chosen accessory organs in wild Canidae.

What’s in a name? An evidence-based approach to understanding the implications of vernacular name on conservation of the painted dog (Lycaon pictus). Blades B.

African Wild Dog Dispersal and Implications for Management. Cozzi G, Behr DM, Webster HS, Claase M, Bryce CM, Modise B, Mcnutt JW, Ozgul A. The Journal of Wildlife Management. 2020 Feb

Updated ranges of the Vulnerable cheetah and Endangered African wild dog in Angola. Monterroso P, Rocha F, van Wyk S, António T, Chicomo M, Kosmas S, Lages F, Fabiano E, Godinho R. Oryx. 2020 Feb
(Angola, Bicuar National Park, western Cuando Cubango province)

Apex predators decline after an influx of pastoralists in former Central African Republic hunting zones. Aebischer T, Ibrahim T, Hickisch R, Furrer RD, Leuenberger C, Wegmann D. Biological Conservation. 2020 Jan

A 20-year review of the status and distribution of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) in South Africa. Nicholson SK, Marneweck DG, Lindsey PA, Marnewick K, Davies-Mostert HT. African Journal of Wildlife Research. 2020
(South Africa, Kruger National Park)

Variable barrier permeability for a pack of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) reintroduced to eastern Botswana. Mottram P, Mann GK, Snyman A, O’Riain MJ. African Journal of Wildlife Research. 2019 Oct

Endangered African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus Temm.) in Angola: Filling a 50‐year gap of knowledge with findings from two National Parks. Overton JM, Elizalde Castells D, Figueira Fernandes Elizalde SR, Valério HM, Alexandre Zumbo MN, Groom RJ, Durant SM. African Journal of Ecology. 2019 Oct
(Angola, Bicuar National Park, Mupa National Park)

An interferon gamma release assay for the detection of immune sensitization to Mycobacterium bovis in African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus). Higgitt RL, Schalkwyk OL, deKlerk-Lorist LM, Buss PE, Caldwell P, Rossouw L, Manamela T, Hausler GA, Helden PD, Parsons SD, Miller MA. Journal of wildlife diseases. 2019 Jul
(South Africa, Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre, and Kruger National Park)

Comparative genomics provides new insights into the remarkable adaptations of the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus). Chavez DE, Gronau I, Hains T, Kliver S, Koepfli KP, Wayne RK. Scientific reports. 2019 Jun

Hindlimb anatomy of the African painted dog (Lycaon pictus). Wright W, Smith HF, Grossman A. The FASEB Journal. 2019 Apr

Rabies outbreak in African Wild Dogs (Lycaon pictus) in the Tuli region, Botswana: Interventions and management mitigation recommendations. Canning G, Camphor H, Schroder B. Journal for nature conservation. 2019 Apr
(Limpopo-Lipadi Private Game and Wilderness Reserve, Tuli region of south-eastern Botswana)

Social rank does not affect sperm quality in male African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus). Reproduction, Van den Berghe F, Paris MC, Sarnyai Z, Briggs MB, Millar RP, Ganswindt A, Paris DB. Fertility and Development. 2019 Apr
(Captive, USA)

Landscape correlates of space use in the critically endangered African wild dog Lycaon pictus. Pretorius ME, Seoraj-Pillai N, Pillay N.PloS one. 2019 Mar
(north-eastern SouthAfrica, Kruger National Park)

Cost-effective assembly of the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) genome using linked reads. Armstrong EE, Taylor RW, Prost S, Blinston P, van der Meer E, Madzikanda H, Mufute O, Mandisodza-Chikerema R, Stuelpnagel J, Sillero-Zubiri C, Petrov D. GigaScience. 2019 Feb

Compassionate Conservation: Exploring the Lives of African Wild Dogs (Lycaon pictus) in Botswana. Fraser-Celin VL, Hovorka AJ. Animals. 2019 Jan
(Botswana, Ethics and animal welfare)

Seroprevalence of viral and vector-borne bacterial pathogens in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) in northern Botswana. Thompson RE, Adams H, Kennedy MA. bioRxiv. 2019 Jan

Practical Management of the Endangered African Wild Dog (Lycaon Pictus): Implementation of Research Methodologies, Management Tools and Validation of Non-Invasive Endocrinology Applications (Doctoral dissertation, alma). Postiglione, G., 2019

A Lycaon pictus impulsive state feedback control model with Allee effect and continuous time delay. Li Y, Cheng H, Wang Y. Advances in Difference Equations. 2018 Dec
(Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park, South Africa)

Human conflict over wildlife: Exploring social constructions of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) in Botswana. Fraser-Celin VL, Hovorka AJ, Silver JJ. Human Dimensions of Wildlife. 2018 Jul

Evaluation of immunogenicity of a commercially available live attenuated vaccine for dogs containing canine distemper virus and canine parvovirus in African wild dog (Lycaon pictus pictus). Wahldén L, Emanuelson U, Møller T, Wensman JJ. Hosts and Viruses. 2018 Jun
(Captive, Kolmården Wildlife Park, Sweden)

Pup provisioning in the cooperatively breeding African wild dog, Lycaon pictus, is driven by pack size, social status and age. Forssman KR, Marneweck C, O’Riain MJ, Davies-Mostert HT, Mills MG. African Journal of Wildlife Research. 2018 Apr
(South Africa, Kruger National Park)

A two-step dilution tris-egg yolk extender containing Equex STM significantly improves sperm cryopreservation in the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus). Van den Berghe F, Paris MC, Briggs MB, Farstad WK, Paris DB. Cryobiology. 2018 Feb

Rabies of canid biotype in wild dog (Lycaon pictus) and spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta) in Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa in 2014-2015: Diagnosis, possible origins and implications for control. Sabeta CT, Rensburg DD, Phahladira B, Mohale D, Harrison-White RF, Esterhuyzen C, Williams JH. Journal of the South African Veterinary Association. 2018

Syringomyelia in the Thoracolumbar Spinal Cord of an African Wild Dog (Lycaon Pictus). Langan, N., ACVR, G.D.D. and Nevitt, N., 2017 Oct
(Captive Pup, USA)

Sneeze to leave: African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) use variable quorum thresholds facilitated by sneezes in collective decisions. Walker RH, King AJ, McNutt JW, Jordan NR. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 2017 Sep

Farmer-African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) relations in the eastern Kalahari region of Botswana. Fraser-Celin VL, Hovorka AJ, Hovork M, Maude G. Koedoe. 2017 May
(eastern Kalahari, Botswana)

African Wild Dog, Lycaon pictus, Coloration Patterns and Social Aggregation. Kim, A.J., 2017 May

Communal knowledge and perceptions of African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) reintroduction in the western part of Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Masenga EH, Lyamuya RD, Mjingo EE, Fyumagwa RD, Røskaft E. InProceedings of the Tenth TAWIRI Scientific Conference, 2nd-4th December 2015, Naura Springs Hotel, Arusha, Tanzania 2017 Mar
(reintroduction in the western part of Serengeti National Park, Tanzania)

Conservation and Endangered African Wild Dogs (Lycaon pictus) in Western Tanzania: A Call for Research and Action. Wilfred P. Huria: Journal of the Open University of Tanzania. 2017
(Ugalla ecosystem of western Tanzania)

Observation of an encounter between African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) and a chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) in the Issa Valley, Tanzania. McLester E, Stewart FA, Piel AK. African Primates. 2016 Dec
(Issa Valley, Tanzania)

Genome sequence, population history, and pelage genetics of the endangered African wild dog (Lycaon pictus). Campana MG, Parker LD, Hawkins MT, Young HS, Helgen KM, Gunther MS, Woodroffe R, Maldonado JE, Fleischer RC. BMC genomics. 2016 Dec
(Laikipia County, Kenya and KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa)

Evaluation of the applicability of different age determination methods for estimating age of the endangered African wild dog (Lycaon pictus). Mbizah MM, Steenkamp G, Groom RJ. PloS one. 2016 Oct
(Savé Valley Conservancy, Zimbabwe)

Genetic diversity and spatial genetic structure of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) in the Greater Limpopo transfrontier conservation area. Tensen L, Groom RJ, Van Belkom J, Davies-Mostert HT, Marnewick K, van Vuuren BJ. Conservation genetics. 2016 Aug
(Zimbabwe, South Africa, Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA))

An ecological paradox: the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) is not attracted to water points when water is scarce in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. Ndaimani H, Tagwireyi P, Sebele L, Madzikanda H. PloS one. 2016 Jan
(Hwange National Park and adjacent smallholder communal farming areas in western, Zimbabwe)

Monitoring stress in captive and free-ranging African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) using faecal glucocorticoid metabolites. Van der Weyde LK, Martin GB, Paris MC. General and comparative endocrinology. 2016 Jan

Pair-specific scents in African wild dogs, Lycaon pictus, and an example of a potential method to identify signals within complex mixtures. Jordan NR, Apps PJ, Golabek KA, McNutt JW. InChemical Signals in Vertebrates 13 2016
(northern Botswana)

Underestimating the frequency, strength and cost of antipredator responses with data from GPS collars: an example with wolves and Elk. Creel S, Winnie Jr JA, Christianson D. Ecology and Evolution. 2013 Dec

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