Greater Masaai Mara Ecosystem a Habitat for the African Wild Dog

According to WWF and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) the African Wild Dog or African Painted Dog is one of the world’s most endangered mammals. Its population is estimated to be between 3,000 and 6,000 and only 1400 are fully grown, the largest populations are found in the Southern part of East Africa and Southern Africa and in Kenya these animals are occasionally sighted in some of the National Games Reserves and quite frequently in some of the private conservancies around the Maasai Mara.

These long-legged canines have only four toes per foot, unlike other dogs, which have five toes on their forefeet, they live in packs that are usually dominated by a monogamous breeding pair. Each animal has its own unique coat pattern, and all have big, rounded ears.

The African wild dog is a highly social animal, with separate dominance hierarchies for males and females. Uniquely among social carnivores, it is the females rather than the males that scatter from the natal pack once sexually mature, and the young are allowed to feed first on carcasses. The species is a specialised diurnal hunter of antelopes, which it catches by chasing them to exhaustion. Like other canids, it regurgitates food for its young, but this action is also extended to adults, to the point of being the bedrock of African wild dog social life.

As human settlements expand, the dogs have sometimes developed a taste for livestock, though significant damage is rare. Unfortunately, they are often hunted and killed by farmers who fear for their domestic animals. They are faced with shrinking room to roam in their African home. They are also quite susceptible to diseases spread by domestic animals.