A member of the dog family, the wild dog measures 750mm at the shoulders and the males are slightly larger than the females, weighing from 20-30kg. They have a mix of yellow, black and white coats where each individual has a a unique pattern of all these colours. They are carnivores that prey mainly on small to medium sized animals, with the Impala being their favourite prey. However, in eastern Africa they have been known to hunt large prey such as the Zebra and Wildebeest. They hunt in packs and will cooperate to tire out prey and then they will tear it apart and they will take livestock in some areas of the continent, though this is quite rare. The wild dog is a seasonal breeder and they give birth to large litters of up to 12 pups after a 70 day gestation period. However, only the dominant male and female breed in a pack, with all the other members of the pack being simply helpers. The packs vary in size, from just pairs and their pups all the way up to 50 individuals, which prefer habitats consisting of moderate dense bush and open plains. They are very social animals who spend most of their time with each other, and they are one of the most efficient hunters in Africa, being able to attack and kill victims of all sizes ranging from Elands to Hares. They eat their prey sometimes when it is still alive and will devour the carcass within a few minutes. They only occur in low population numbers as a result of having large territories. It is sadly one of Africa’s most endangered mammals with a poor conservation status, the main contributing factor being humans hunting them. However, other factors include diseases like rabies where they have come into contact with domestic animals infected with it. Today there are only a few pockets left, mainly confined to eastern and southern Africa, with Botswana having the largest and most widespread populations.
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