Saturday, March 5, 2011

Painted dogs? [Part 5 of Massingir Excursion]

Rarely seen, the Painted Dog is on the endangered species' list.  It occurs solely in Africa.

Painted dogs?  Yes, you heard correctly.  Their impressive sounding, scientific name is Lycaon pictus.  More commonly, they are known as the African Wild Dog or Painted Dog.  They occur solely in Africa, most commonly in grasslands and lightly wooded areas, preferably deciduous in type.  They are a highly threatened species, now on the endangered list.  Whereas their numbers were once in excess of 500,000 these have dwindled to a mere 5,000 largely due to loss of habitat and hunting.
Please click the Read more button below to continue this post...

How very fortunate for us, therefore, to have been able to meet up with this small pack at Massingir!  Look at them, running just ahead of our vehicle, enticing us to follow.  I trust you're all taking as many pictures as you can, as this really is something special.  A friend, who is a regular visitor to both the Kruger National and Limpopo Parks, has never seen them!!!

The African Wild Dog hunts in packs and, like most members of the canine family, they pursue their prey in a long, open chase. 

Socially, they look after their pack members well and, after a successful hunt, regurgitate meat to feed the sick or injured, those too old to hunt and, of course, their pups and those who remained behind to guard them at the den, while the others were out hunting.

Both males and females in the pack have their own separate hierarchy and dominance is established by submission rather than aggression.

They have 42 teeth with one of the highest bite force quotients of any carnivore and they have an 80% kill success rate.  Compare this with lions, who rarely exceed a 30% chance of a successful kill with any hunt!
They are strongly affected by competition for prey by larger carnivores, including lions and hyenas and are sometimes killed by these animals or chased away from their kill.

Most of Africa's national parks are too small to accommodate the needs of these canines and so they gravitate beyond the safe confines, into unprotected areas, where they are often targetted by ranchers and farmers wishing to protect their livestock and game.

The African Wild Dog is endangered by human overpopulation, hunting and loss of habitat.

The 'larger prey' hunting behaviour of these dogs is now thought to be learnt (and passed down from generation to generation), rather than instinctual and varies significantly, from pack to pack.

The scientific name translates to 'painted wolf' and one can see why, not only from the striking coat of the dog, but also from the wolf-like expression in this dog's eyes.

What a lovely face...alert, intent, curious.

It's been quite an eventful day, with a lot to digest, so I'll leave you to enjoy the sunset back at the rest camp and we can continue tomorrow...

Heading back to camp after an exciting day...
The African sun slowly sinking in the distance...

Last light picking out the many nests in a lone Acacia tree...

Time to settle down for the night!


  1. What a stunning post!

    I was lucky enough to see a pack of these amazing dogs in the Kruger about 20 years ago, even pups.

    The sunset behing the acacia is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing such a special African moment with us.

  2. Desiree... all I can say is WOW! What beautiful and fascinating animals. I've never heard of them before. The pictures of the sunset are so pretty. Especially with the tree in the foreground. Thank you so much for sharing. I'm learning so much from you! :-)

  3. This was so informative and the photos - amazing!!! What beautiful courageous dogs these beauties are!! I am totally impressed by them. (Are there any dogs that don't impress me?) And the Acacia tree...with the setting sun! Breathtaking!
    Thanks you so much for this!
    Blessings for a lovely Sunday!

  4. So cute !! what a strange ears they have !!...but they are beautiful !! have a nice evening

  5. Several years ago I came across photos of the African Wild Dogs while trying to research an odd animal seen in our field...they are beautifully different. Our odd animal turned out to be a fox with mange which changed his normal appearance.

  6. What amazing animals! I've never heard of them before. Such beautiful fur! And great pictures of them. Thank you so much for posting this!

  7. It looks like it came from parents of differing species or something. I wonder what kind of temperament they have. Do they approach human areas?

    Thanks for your comments on my blog.

  8. I just realized I hadn't read the whole post yet. Your other photos are amazing, too!

    It's a difficult struggle having the needs/wants of people satisfied vs. the survival of creatures like those wild dogs.

  9. I have never seen these before....i did see the hyena....such a diference....these are cute but the hyena is not....
    Such a same that we, people, are the reason why these animals disapear.....Love your pictures, as always...have a nice day...
    Love and greetings Bianca

  10. This is one I've never heard of before. How sad that they are being run down in numbers. I hope that changes since they are now protected... I'm never sure how much that actually helps.

    Thanks for posting this lovely picture.

  11. Hmm, I think I've seen these wild dogs on tv before. I'd have to say, wow, finally a dog/wolf that has pointy ears as big as Aschiuta's (my dog). They are lovely indeed.

    I would suggest that they are so successful with their hunts because they have a good strategy and they hunt in packs. I think lions, for the most part, hunt alone.

    The information you offer is always interesting. You should consider writing a book if you haven't done so already. And you must also include photos, of course!

    And, to answer your nice comment (as always), I hope to post more about my country, since it is really beautiful.

  12. Desiree,

    The photos are magic, and the information is fascinating! The love of my love WILL be referred to your blog, as will a dear friend of mine (Wendy, who is referred in one of the earlier chapters of my journey saga as a friend of mine,now ours, since 1963) last week told me she is off for her second visit to Africa in September, because it is her favourite destination after her first visit.

    With much warmth,


  13. Those dogs are beautiful. How lucky that you got to have that amazing experience. I so enjoyed all the photos - this felt like a little travelogue. :-)

  14. Well, I have never been to Africa, but reading your blog helps me to know more about this beautiful continent.
    Thank you for sharing it with me and thank you for the sweet comments you left on my blog. Have a wonderful day!

  15. I have never seen even a picture of these wild dogs.
    If I saw one I would probably think it was a jackal.
    They are so beautiful and with those specialized ears I'll be they can hear for miles (and maybe even pick up cell phone reception).

    As usual, I had a wonderful time on your tour.


  16. Incredible - this is like a TV documentary! So informative. How exciting to see the dogs.

  17. Most extraordinary, these painted dogs.
    You've provided us with so much detailed information too, which is appreciated.

    I'm fascinated by how their dominance is gained .. by submission rather than aggression.

    They are quite beautiful creatures, their markings are so striking.

    Oh, those sunset pictures too - breathtaking.

  18. They have African wild dogs at the zoo near us in Seattle. I always feel sorry for them in such a small enclosure and watching them constantly pacing. It sounds like they really need more open space as you mention that even in the national parks they don't have enough space. As neat as it is to get to see animals in the zoo, I think they'd be much happier in the wild.

  19. They are beautiful dogs. I love their markings and can quite see howe they would have been given their name.

  20. i doubt i will ever make it to Africa...and it's one of those places i have always wanted to go!!
    but now i can see all the unbelievable sights...through your eyes!! THANKS!!!!

    i'm fascinated by these wild dogs...they're painted fur...and those EARS!! i was surprised when i read that their kill rate of prey is so much higher than that of the lion! wow! i guess because of their 'pack attack'??

    the sunset...gorgeous! what a perfect picture!! so matter where we are in the world...knowing that the sun is going down and rising on the other just so awe-inspiring! thanks desiree, for capturing that moment and taking your journey!! WOW!! :laura

  21. Beautiful creatures and beautiful sunsets! I'm really enjoying this tour.


I would love to hear from you!