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Today saw the successful launch of the Wild Dog Advisory Group South Africa (WAG-SA) website at developed by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) in consultation with WAG-SA participants. WAG-SA is a collaborative advisory group made up of key stakeholders in the fight to keep South Africa’s Endangered Wild Dogs alive, including reserve managers, landowners, researchers, veterinarians, non-governmental organisations and provincial representatives.

The website provides an online resource to guide national African Wild Dog management, to inform relevant stakeholders and to educate the general public. Furthermore it provides detailed information on the current status and ranges of African Wild Dogs in South Africa, all aspects of management of the species, as well as links to current and past research projects and literature – all of which will aid conservation decision making.

Said Brendan Whittington-Jones, Coordinator for the National Wild Dog Metapopulation Project: “There are, approximately 5,500 free-ranging African Wild Dogs left in Africa. They have disappeared from at least 25 countries during the past 50 years. With fewer than 450 free ranging African Wild Dogs left in South Africa it is the country’s rarest carnivore.”

WAG-SA, which operates under the auspices of the IUCN’s Canid Specialist Group, was established in 1997 to monitor and facilitate the development and maintenance of the managed Wild Dog metapopulation in South Africa. The managed metapopulation comprises a series of geographically isolated private and state reserves that are capable of sustaining African Wild Dogs, but which need continual, intensive, collaborative efforts to manage these subpopulations as one, collective metapopulation. WAG-SA acts as a platform for reserve managers and interested parties to present and discuss Wild Dog metapopulation challenges and issues and, as a group, to recommend solutions. In this regard WAG-SA also collaborates closely with individuals and institutions actively involved with both the captive population and unmanaged free-roaming populations of the species, both in South Africa and throughout the region. These include provincial bodies, such as Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and North West Parks and Tourism, as well as national bodies such as the National Zoological Gardens. Decisions made regarding the reintroduction and translocations of Wild Dogs within the managed metapopulation are made at WAG-SA meetings.

“Managing this species in South Africa is particularly complex as a result of the African Wild Dog’s social dynamics and the significant threat posed by habitat fragmentation, continued persecution in some areas of South Africa, and snaring and vehicle strikes. The challenge remains to ensure active participation from metapopulation reserve members and to establish safe-passage landscape linkages between subpopulations. This will allow for natural dispersals from among resident populations and ultimately reduce the intensive requirements of population management currently necessary due to the fact that the populations are geographically isolated,” continued Whittington-Jones.

For further information about the Wild Dog Advisory Group and the EWT’s National Metapopulation Project contact Brendan Whittington-Jones on The EWT’s Wild Dog conservation efforts are supported by Jaguar Land Rover South Africa, Land Rover Centurion, Richard Bosman, Vaughan de la Harpe, the South African Mint, Investec Property, Knowsely Safari Park and Global Supplies.


African Wild Dog


The African Wild Dog - Lycaon pictus - also called Cape Hunting dog, or painted dog is found in savannas and lightly wooded areas in sub-Saharian Africa. They live in packs that are usually dominated by a monogamous breeding pair. These dogs are very social, and packs have been known to share food and to assist weak or ill members. Social interactions are common.


A tall, lean animal with males slightly larger than females. They have a mottled coat, which features patches of red, black, brown, white, and yellow fur. Each animal has its own unique coat pattern and have only four toes per foot, unlike other dogs, which have five toes on their forefeet. They have large, rounded ears.


The dogs communicate by touch, actions, and vocalizations.


African wild dogs hunt in formidable, cooperative packs of 6 to 20 animals. Packs hunt antelopes and will also tackle much larger prey, such as wildebeests, particularly if their quarry is ill or injured. The dogs supplement their diet with rodents and birds.


They may breed at any time of year, although mating peaks between March and June during the second half of the rainy season. The gestation period is approximately 70 days. Pups are usually born in dens dug and abandoned by other animals. Weaning takes place at about 10 weeks. After 3 months, the pups leave the den and begin to run with the pack. Females will disperse from their birth pack at 14–30 months and join other packs that lack sexually mature females.

Conservation Status – Endangered

African wild dogs are endangered. They are faced with shrinking room to roam in their African home. They are also quite susceptible to diseases spread by domestic animals.


Ask Aves Birding Tours/Safaris/Adventures to create a tour for you to see these magnificent animals.

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