Can wild African dogs attack a lion?

African wild dog


What do African wild dogs look like?

The African wild dog belongs to the dog family and thus to the predators. With a body length of 80 to 100 centimeters, the 35 centimeter long, bushy tail, the long legs and a shoulder height of about 65 centimeters, it is the largest dog in the savannahs of Africa. A fully grown animal weighs 25 to 30 kilograms. The females are slightly smaller than the males.

No African wild dog looks like the other: Each animal has an individual pattern of brown, reddish, yellow and white spots on the black base color.

The snout is pointed and mostly black in color, the teeth are very strong. The ears are noticeably large, round and somewhat resemble those of a Mickey Mouse. They can be turned in all directions and act like radar dishes so that the wild dogs can hear very well even from a distance.

Unlike the rest of the dogs, the African Wild Dog only has four toes instead of five, and the females have 12 to 16 mammary glands instead of eight to ten.

Where do African wild dogs live?

The African wild dog was originally found in almost all savannahs in Africa. Today it is one of the rarest animals in Africa. It can only be found in a few places in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa, as well as in Kenya and Tanzania.

African wild dogs are inhabitants of the savannahs and grass steppes. In order to be able to hunt well, they need open areas rich in game, but also places with bushes and some trees where they can retreat and rest.

What types are there?

The African wild dog is the only representative of its genus. At first glance you could mistake him for a hyena - that's where his second German name comes from: hyena dog. However, the wild dog is not related to the hyenas. Hyenas belong to the feline superfamily, the wild dog to the canine superfamily.

How old do African wild dogs get?

African wild dogs live to be ten to twelve years old.


How do African wild dogs live?

Family means everything to African wild dogs! The animals live exclusively in packs of ten to 30 animals. They are very social and peaceful, there are hardly any fights between the animals. At the head of a pack there is a so-called alpha pair. But the lead dog alone has the say: She makes all the decisions and determines, for example, when to hunt. There is a fixed hierarchy in the rest of the pack, but it is difficult to see for observers.

The pack is also so important for the wild dogs because they can only hunt successfully in a team. That is why they treat each other very carefully: If a pack member is injured or ill, the other animals provide them with choked food.

When eating, the young always have priority. The adult animals guard the little ones and wait patiently for their turn.

A pack always consists of related males and females who are not related to these males. Because unlike other species, the adult, sexually mature females have to leave the pack.

Even if a pack gets too big, it divides. At the age of two, same-sex groups separate from the pack and move around. If they find a strange group of females or males, they form a new pack with them.

African wild dogs need a very large area to survive. It can cover 500 square kilometers and more. However, because the animals also move outside of the territory to explore new habitats, they often end up in areas where they are not protected and where they are hunted.

Friends and enemies of the African wild dogs

The most dangerous natural enemies for African wild dogs are lions and hyenas. Young wild dogs in particular fall victim to them. In addition, the animals are often hunted by farmers because they sometimes attack cattle. In addition, many wild dogs are run over by cars.

Another danger is diseases: the animals can die of rabies and can also become infected with distemper in domestic dogs. This disease can wipe out entire packs.

To us, they are not dangerous: there are no reports that African wild dogs have ever attacked humans.

How do African wild dogs reproduce?

When it comes to reproduction, African wild dogs show a peculiarity: only the dominant alpha pair of the pack has offspring every twelve to 14 months. After two and a half months of gestation, the alpha female gives birth to two to 16 young. The little ones are usually born in the dry season between March and July, when the hunting conditions are best.

When the birth is imminent, the pack no longer roams around, but instead stays close to the alpha female. This withdraws into an abandoned aardvark or warthog den and gives birth to the babies there.

The little ones are suckled exclusively by the mother. After about ten weeks they start to eat solid foods as well.

When they are three to four weeks old they go on a discovery tour in front of the cave for the first time. From now on the whole pack will help with the rearing. All animals - including the males - feed and take care of the young. If the pack goes hunting, three adult animals are left behind as babysitters. When the cubs are six months old, they are allowed to hunt for the first time and the pack moves around again. The animals are fully grown at 14 months.

How do African wild dogs hunt?

African wild dogs are considered to be the most successful hunters in the bush. In 90% of the cases they kill their prey. They usually hunt twice a day - in the morning and in the late afternoon. The animals are persistent, patient hunters and can pursue their prey up to five kilometers at a speed of 60 kilometers per hour.

Finally, the alpha animal grabs the prey by the hind legs and holds it tight, the other pack members tear it apart. The wild dogs devour the prey at lightning speed because they are often harassed by other predators who want to steal the prey from them.

The wild dogs defend themselves against hyenas, even if they are outnumbered. But they immediately give up their prey to hungry lions because they have no chance against them.

How do African wild dogs communicate?

Those who hunt in packs have to communicate with each other. African wild dogs communicate using different sounds, gestures and smells. The contact call is like the call of an owl. Other sounds sound similar to barking, growling, chirping or whining.


What do African wild dogs eat?

African wild dogs mainly hunt impalas, but also wildebeest, warthogs and even large animals such as zebras or buffalo when they are weakened. Small mammals such as rabbits and rodents as well as young birds are also on the menu. An adult wild dog can eat six to eight kilograms of meat at one meal. The prey is shared among all pack members, regardless of rank and regardless of who snatched the prey.

Is the African Wild Dog Endangered?

The African Wild Dog is critically endangered and critically endangered. Today there are only around 5000 animals left in the wild. It is not certain that the species has any chance of survival.