The African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus)
Unlike the Big Five, the African Wild Dog is definitely one of the less spoken about African wildlife animals. However, they are also one of the world’s most endangered carnivores! Wild Dogs are exclusively found in Africa, at only 3000 – 5000 dogs remaining. Wild Dog numbers are increasingly on the decline for numerous reasons.
Why are they so endangered amongst other African wildlife?
Firstly, humans continue to destroy their natural habitats, despite conservation efforts. Habitats are lost due to increasing demand for livestock to graze upon, as well as cultivation due to increased human populations. And when Wild Dogs do cross these habitat boarders, they are also susceptible to rabies and other diseases, often from contact with domesticated dogs!
Another reason a pack’s ideal habitat may become unattainable, is because of predators. Generally, even with ideal habitats filled with an abundance of delightful prey, often the Wild Dogs will still seek territory elsewhere. Why? Because Wild Dogs know better than to risk probable death, all for a spot already claimed by those far higher up on the wildlife food chain. Lions, leopards and Hyenas account for most Wild Dog deaths.
What makes them so unique?
Each and every African Wild Dog looks different. Much like a fingerprint, they have coats unlike any other they will ever encounter. This is one reason they make for highly enjoyable creatures to use as pencil art subjects. South African pencil artist, Matthew Bell, is currently most proud of his Wild Dog drawings, particularly the pencil drawing below.
‘My Wild Dog drawings are some of my best, especially the one with the mother and baby. I love the interaction there and was really happy with the way it turned out.”
What’s their breeding pattern like?
When it comes to the African Wildlife, the way which the African Wild Dog hunts and breeds in quite unique as well. Each pack has their own hunting strategy, changing it up when required. Although each pack usually has more than one female and male, each pack only has one alpha male and female, and only they will breed to keep the pack alive. However, the alpha female is not the only provider and caregiver, and the pubs are treated like royalty among the pack.
What is their main source of food? How do they hunt for it?
Their main source of food is the African Antelope. When the dogs need to hunt, they hunt separately. A ‘helper’ dog or more will remain with the pups in the den during breeding season. When the rest of the pack returns, they feed the pups and the helper dog in the form of regurgitation. The loyalty between these dogs is remarkable, and their courage to survive to better the lives of each-other should too, be an example for us to live by.
To view more South African wildlife art, please feel free to head on over to the gallery on the home page. Here you can view both original pencil art and prints : https://matthewbellart.co.za/
To get to know the South African pencil artist a little better, head over to the Q&A page at: https://matthewbellart.co.za/qa-original-wildlife-art/