If you are very very lucky and accompanied by an experienced game ranger and tracker, you might come across a pack of Lycaon Pictus during your South African safari.
Otherwise known as painted wolves, Cape hunting dogs and African wild dogs, these canids are none of the above. Neither are they related to hyenas, although they were initially classified as a type of hyena.
Lycaon pictus, while belonging to the family Canidae, is only distantly related to any of the other canines in their family and is considered a distinct species of one. Lycaon do not interbreed with any other members of the dog and wolf clans, and they have a few other distinguishing features too.
Unfortunately, the main difference between domestic dogs and Lycaon is in the numbers. While kennels and shelters overflow with unwanted and abandoned pets, wild dogs continue to teeter on the verge of extinction. With only 5 000 left in the wild, time is running out for this round-eared, beautifully coloured creature. Their restrictive breeding habits and limited gene pool make it difficult to breed them in captivity, the only chance they have is in their natural environment.
When you take a South African safari, you are helping in a small way towards the conservation of the wild dog and building awareness about the species. Get started today by getting in touch with Thornybush and we’ll do our best to track down the wild dogs for you.