Namibian's last wild dogs under pressure
Known as: African Wild Dog, Painted Dog, Cape Hunting Dog, African Hunting Dog.
Estimated numbers left in the wild: 3.000 – 5.000 can be found mostly in game reserves and national parks
African wild dogs can grow up to 110 cm in height and weigh up to 36 kg, which is the same size as a medium sized domestic dog. The name painted hunting dog is derived from the splotchy markings on the dogs coat. These markings are unique to each individual in the pack and help other dogs identify that individual.
Pack Structure: They are highly social animals living in packs, dominated by a breeding pair and separated into male and female hierarchies. A pack hunts together and returns to the den to feed the dominant female, puppies and sick dogs. The painted dog is one of very few mammals that actually look after old, sick or disabled members of the pack. The average pack consists of about 10 members with the majority being male, which is unlike any other canine species. Historically packs may have numbered up to 40 individuals!
Reproduction: It is normal only for the alpha female and male to reproduce, while the rest of the pack will help look after the pups. In an African wild dog pack a litter will be born every year with up to 16 pups in each. However, unfortunately the mortality rate is high, so not all will survive.
The average life span of an African wild dog is 11 years.
Location: African wild dogs can be found in eastern and southern Africa in countries like Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Isolated populations can be found in Zambia, Mozambique and Kenya.
African wild dogs prefer to roam in savannah, open plains and sparse woodlands.
A brutal act
Our Famous Five… a conservation dream has ended in a brutal attack. On Tuesday, 12 February, our painted pack of five African wild dogs was callously persecuted.
Situated close to Windhoek International Airport and the Naankuse Lodge and Wildlife Sanctuary, the Zannier Reserve by Naankuse acts as a haven for wildlife – a haven that instead became a scene of brutality.
They came to the Naankuse Foundation Wildlife Sanctuary as pups, siblings Nadia and Jaco rescued from a situation of conflict in the Mangetti area of Namibia’s north-east, with the three brothers, Namib, Desert and Veldt, having been removed from a situation of certain death in Namibia’s Otjozondjupa region.
Raised by Marlice van Vuuren the pups thrived and formed a remarkable pack of five. After almost two years of dedication to these animals, classified as endangered by the IUCN’s red list of threatened species and legally protected within Namibia since 2016, these dogs were ambassadors for their species and formed one of the Naankuse Foundation’s most successful release projects to date.
Embracing freedom on the Zannier Reserve by Naankuse in June 2018 the pack, affectionately dubbed the “Famous Five”, survived without conflict for seven months. Displaying exceptional hunting skills, these magnificent dogs took to their new lives as if they had never been confined to captivity.
But on 12 February a pack personifying the perfect conservation vision lay defeated. Evidence clearly points to security personnel from Windhoek International Airport, with whom the Zannier Reserve by Naankuse shares a common fence, unlawfully accessing the reserve and shooting at the pack to obtain their meat from a successful kudu kill. Numerous studies have shown that African wild dogs make use of man-made structures and perimeter fences when bringing down prey, and the pack of five regularly made use of the fence line when hunting.
Upon further inspection, 12-gauge shotgun shell casings were discovered, with two deceased dogs and the third critically injured prompting Naankuse staff to immediately alert the police. Members of the Namibian Police Force and the Protected Resources Unit (PRU) responded and a full investigation ensued.
Six suspects were remanded and later released on bail – a bitter reminder of how easily freedom can be granted to some but will never again be relished by an incredible pack of animals whose freedom was hard won.
Namib and Veldt, the two surviving dogs, were returned to captivity for their own wellbeing. The likelihood of just two dogs being able to hunt successfully is slim, and now the duo is being carefully monitored at the Naankuse Foundation Wildlife Sanctuary. We will do everything in our power to grant them the best possible future.
(from Media Release naankuse.com)
Tragically, just three days later, Jaco lost the fight despite our very best efforts.
For Nadia, Jaco and Desert. Your deaths will not be in vain!
Conserve the Painted Dogs today!
• Wild dogs are Namibia’s most endangered mammal species and continue to be widely persecuted
• Only an estimated 300-600 painted dogs remain in the wild in Namibia
• Only 5% of their range is within protected areas
The Namibian painted dog or wild dog population is under immediate threat of extinction and action is needed to reinstate and rebuild the remaining local population.
The present surviving population of painted dogs is severely fragmented and is highly unlikely to re-colonize areas that they used to inhabit by natural migration.