Threats to Painted Dogs

Why are painted dogs endangered?

Painted dogs are one of the most threatened predators in Africa, with only 6,500 painted dogs remaining across the continent in 39 sub-populations. Learn more about painted dogs here.

The greatest threats to painted dog populations across Africa are humans and our ever-growing environmental footprint.

Painted dogs are hugely vulnerable to human encroachment and agricultural expansion resulting in habitat fragmentation and increased conflict with human populations. With shrinking habitats and increasingly unsafe protected areas for the painted dog to thrive, population estimates are declining. 

Increased exposure to human settlements and domestic animals increases pack susceptibility to viral diseases, such as rabies and canine distemper, which can wipe out whole packs in one go, further threatening the survival of the African painted dog.

African painted dogs in the wild are under serious threat from habitat degradation and shrinking space.

Learn more about how DSWF is working to save painted dogs in Zimbabwe. 

Threats to painted dogs

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. 

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.

Habitat fragmentation:

To avoid inbreeding same-sex dispersal groups will break away from their natal pack and join up with another dispersal group to form a new breeding unit (pack). Dispersal groups can move vast distances, thus aiding genetic diversity.

The restriction of movement caused by far-flung fragmented protected areas divided by fences, farmland, urban developments and roads, means painted dogs can no longer partake in natural dispersals. This has a negative impact on gene flow.


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. 

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.


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 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.

£25 could fund the cost for one child to attend a four-day residential bush camp programme.