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May 29, 2009

Wild dog

The wild dog weighs between 17 - 36 kg (37 - 79 lb). It is generally found in plains and open woodland, although it has been found in a variety of other habitats from the Sahara Desert up into the lower forests of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Most prey species weigh between 20 - 90 kg (44 - 200 lb), but aanimals as small as cane rats and as large as greater kudu have been reported in the diet.

The dominant prey species varies according tothe most abundant prey species in the area. Dominant prey species in various areas include Thomson's gazelle,wildebeest, impala, duiker and reedbuck.

For most of the year, wild dogs roam around over the plains and in the bush, usually not staying in the same place for more than a day. Hunts take place in the morning and early evening. Prey is apparently located by sight, approached silently, and then pursued at speeds of up to 66 km/hr (41 mph) for up to one hour.Pack members generally cooperate in huntinglargemammals, but individuals sometimes pursue hares, rodents, or other small animals. The daytime is spent sleeping, usually in the shade of a tree or near water, with members of the pack lying very close together. Once a year the pack occupies a den for 2 - 3 months,to bear young. The den is usually an abandoned aardvark hole.

Wild dogs are social, communally hunting carnivores, which live in small cohesive packs typically
composed of a dominant breeding pair, a number of non-breeding adults, and their dependent offspring. Within the wild dog pack all the males are related to each other, and all of the females to each otherbut not to the males. Females migrate into the pack, whereas males usually stay with their natal pack.Only the highest-ranking male and female normally breed, and they inhibit reproduction by subordinates.Pack size ranges from 2 - 43, with the average number usually between 8 - 11.

The wild dog was formerly found over almost all of Africa, including parts of the Sahara.
It was probably once found in every habitat except rain forest and some desert areas. However,
there has been a major decline in numbers in historical times, although it still occurs over much
of its original range. Most are in southern and eastern Africa; only small remnant populations remainin West and central Africa. Remaining populations are fragmented and concentrated in protected areas.The major causes of decline have been its mostly undeserved reputation as an indiscriminate killer of game and livestock, which has led to severe persecution, and the loss of its habitat as human populations have expanded.

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