Home Species We Protect Painted Dogs Threats to Painted Dogs
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Threats to Painted Dogs

Painted dogs are one of the most threatened predators in Africa, with fewer than 6,000 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.

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

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Why are painted dogs endangered?

How we help protect Painted dogs

Leon Molenaar
Painted Dog Conservation
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

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, because 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.

Artwork by Emma Swift
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

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 responding to livestock predation.

Whilst this is sporadic and uncommon as an occurrence, 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.


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.


Uganda Conservation Foundation
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

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. You can read more about the extent of the problem in our blog.

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 this trade is still unknown, and studies are being undertaken.

You can support our work to save endangered animals from extinction by adopting today.

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

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All donations will help us continue our vital work conservation work to protect endangered species and turn the tide on extinction.

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