|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.
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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.
|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.
|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.
|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!