Painted dogs, also known as painted wolves, cape hunting dogs and wild dogs, are one of Africa’s most endangered mammals due to threats posed from growing human populations and habitat destruction. 

With growing competition for shrinking spaces and a vulnerability to habitat degradation the African painted dog in the wild is under serious threat.

Major Threats to the African Painted Dog

Habitat loss: Mineral resource extraction and the expansion of agriculture and aquaculture across most of Africa is resulting in shrinking habitats. This loss of space increases competition for land and resources between wild animals, including painted dogs.  An evident increase in infrastructural developments in, around or through protected areas is also having a devastating impact on the home ranges of painted dog packs and causes ever increasing road mortality rates in high traffic or high-density areas.  Smaller habitat and home-ranges also put growing pressure on prey species and the ability of painted dogs to access food sources. Alongside this pressure, any loss of individual pack members, as a result of human-wildlife conflict or road mortality for example, can also disrupt hunting capacity and further reduce the ability of painted dogs to access food.

Human-wildlife conflict: Growing human populations living ever closer to painted dogs in their wild environments, increases the chance of conflict over natural resources and retaliatory killings by farmers as a result of livestock predation. Whilst this occurs less often than one would think, the local perception of painted dogs is not a positive one and local communities don’t always savour the thought of living in such close proximity to the African painted dog.

Disease: Infectious, invasive, non-native and viral diseases, often transmitted by domesticated animals, can pose a huge threat to whole packs, which can be wiped out in a single disease outbreak.

Snares: Snares are the indiscriminate killers of the African bush, often described as the ‘silent killers.’ Laid for illegal bushmeat poaching, for example targeting antelope species to feed local communities, painted dogs often fall victim to these brutal killers and remain trapped, unable to escape.

In more recent years there have been reports of a trade in captive and wild-caught painted dogs for possible breeding initiatives and the illegal transport to more unsavoury zoos.  However, the extent of the trade is still unknown and studies are being undertaken.

How DSWF is working to protect painted dogs


How to Help Painted Dogs

Please help us protect painted dogs: