African wild dog now a protected species in Namibia

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Q & A with Strand Hotel Swakopmund
February 23, 2016

Compiled Sanet van Zijl | Main photo ©Paul van Schalkwyk

According to the World Wildlife Fund, the African wild dog is one of the world’s most endangered mammals. The largest populations remain in southern Africa and the southern part of East Africa. Namibia has finally taken the necessary steps to ensure the survival of this species.

The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Mr Pohamba Shifeta signed the amendment of Nature Conservation from 1975, to now include the African wild dog as a protected species.

This changes the legal status of the animal that has not been protected up until now, giving it the same status as the rhino in Namibia. This is good news both for this species and for conservation in the country. It will bring with it it’s own challenges, such as the management of the species, however all stakeholders – especially farmers, will need to find proactive solutions in dealing with these predators.

Experts are uncertain at this time as to how many wild dogs there are roaming freely in Namibia, but they believe that numbers have reached a critical level and it is estimated that only between 355 and 601 of them are left here.

The main population of wild dogs is found in north-east Namibia. Other areas where they occur frequently are Tsumkwe, the Khaudum National Park and Zambezi Region.


African wild dog. Photo ©Paul van Schalkwyk

The African wild dog has already vanished from large areas where they previously occurred. In Namibia they could be seen throughout the country in the past, except for the desert areas such as the Kalahari and the Namib. They disappeared from the Windhoek area in the 1950’s and in the 1970’s from the south-western parts of the country.

In 1970 rewards were given out to individuals who brought the tails of wild dogs to conservationists, as the dogs were seen as a threat to livestock farming.

The African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) is a carnivore and mammal from the family Canidae. Wild dogs occur only in Africa, especially in savannah areas. They are the only species in the genus Lycaon.


African wild dogs. Photo ©Paul van Schalkwyk

The dogs live in packs of about 10- 15 animals that hunt together. They rely on sight, rather than smell when hunting. After a hunt the adults regurgitate food to the pups.

The female carries for two months before giving birth and young are usually expected during winter. A litter consists of between 2 and 6 pups. The life expectancy of these animals are about 10 years.

Read this article on the African Wild Dog Population Assessment Project that appeared in the 2015 issue of Conservation Namibia:

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