The African wild dog, also commonly referred to as the wild dog, Cape hunting dog and painted dog, has been listed as Endangered in the National Red Data book (2004) for more than 20 years. The African wild dog is regarded as one of the most endangered predators in the world, but sadly it does not get as much attention as larger predators.
Their migratory habits create difficulty in ascertaining the existing number of the wild population. In South Africa, however, it is estimated that there are more than 250 animals, including about 50 breeding pairs, in the wild. The total population of wild dogs is estimated at 6,600 individuals worldwide.
African wild dogs require large protected areas with a suitably large prey base to support them. At this stage wild dog populations are limited to the Kruger National Park, Hluhluwe-Umfolozi, Marakele, Pilansberg and Venetia Game Reserves.
Small populations of between five and seven wild dogs have also been introduced in Shambala, Karongwe and Shamwari private game reserves. Other than the Kruger National Park with an estimated 25 breeding pairs of dogs, the smaller reserves are limited to only one or two breeding pairs per reserve.
So far limited successes have been achieved with the incorporation of captive bred wild dogs into wild packs. Captive bred wild dogs destined for possible reintroduction into the wild should be reared in larger camps where exposure to humans is limited as much as possible. These animals will have to undergo gradual ‘rewilding’ and controlled contact with wild animals before attempts could be successful.
HESC’s African wild dog breeding programme saw the birth of 154 pups from 1991 to 2008.