The plains of Maasai Mara

Facts about African Wild Dog

The African Wild Dog in Kenya

A number of wildlife species in Africa are not as popular as the big five or the rare five. Nonetheless, these unknown animals make wildlife safaris memorable when you see them grazing, browsing or hunting. Take for instance, the African wild dog. It is one of the main carnivorous species in the Kenyan plains, but every few people list it on the must see group of animals.

Also known as a hunting dog, or mbwa mwitu in Kiswahili, the African wild dog is a predator whose importance is maintaining a natural balance in the bush so that only strong animals remain. The African wild dog’s long legs, jaws and its sharp ears are adapted for its predatory lifestyle. One distinctive feature between a wild dog and a domesticated one is that a wild dog has four toes while a domesticated dog has five.

Wild dogs live in the savannah or in woodlands. They live in groups of about 6 to 20 animals, which is a good number to ensure every hunt is successful. Watching the animals tear prey in the plains is an unforgettable experience. They pounce on wildebeests, warthogs, antelopes and other herbivores and tear them apart even before the snared animals die.

This species travels through the plains and only reduces the number of miles covered daily when there is a litter in the pack. This animal has a lifespan of 12 years and its main predator is man. Interestingly, these animals have a distinct body pattern so it is easy to tell them apart. According to the African Wildlife Foundation, only about 6,000 wild dogs are in the wild. In Kenya, you can spot wild dogs in Ol Pejeta Wildlife Conservancy and Maasai Mara National Reserve.

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Profile photo of Leah Wangondu
on Mar 17, 2014

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