AFRICAN WILD DOG (Lycaon pictus)
Lycaon pictus is a large canid found only in Africa, especially in savannas and lightly wooded areas. It is variously called the African wild dog, African hunting dog, Cape hunting dog, painted dog, painted wolf, painted hunting dog, spotted dog, or ornate wolf. This dog is the only canine without dewclaws which are the claws that are on the inside of the front feet. (wikipedia)
Current Status: African Wild Dogs have disappeared from much of their former range. The species is virtually eradicated from West Africa, and greatly reduced in central Africa and north-east Africa. The largest populations remain in southern Africa and the southern part of East Africa. Population densities in well-studied areas suggest that between 3,000–5,500 free-ranging wild dogs remain in Africa (< 2,500 of these are mature individuals). Population size is continuing to decline as a result of ongoing conflict with human activities, infectious disease, habitat fragmentation. (iucn)
Kelly’s Comment: During the nineties there was a movement to get the common name of these gorgeous canines changed to “Painted Dog,” because it was felt that “Wild Dog” promoted negative attitudes toward the creatures. You can see why they’d want to call them “Painted.” No two African Wild Dogs have the same coloration, and it’s not just slight variations either. These guys often look DRASTICALLY different from animal to animal, and it’s really stunning. There is a decently large movement to protect and conserve these lovely dogs, but unfortunately their population is still decreasing. Hopefully they will soon be on the rise again.