The YWP Painted Dog reserve is home to sisters Nandi & Thabo, alpha male Nafari and Thabo and Nafari’s seven puppies . The reserve has been created to mirror their environment in the wild. Painted Dogs are found in savanna grasslands and woodlands and love playing in waterholes. The reserve has a variety of habitats for them to explore and although they have a house to sleep in they are allowed to dig their own dens and have caves to shelter in.
Painted Dogs live in a pack led by a lead (alpha) female and male. Although there is a hierarchy, there is only a bit of aggression between the pack members.
In fact bonds between pack individuals are so strong that the fittest pack members will hunt and provide food for the sick and elderly. Painted Dogs rely on cooperation to survive. Cooperation enables them to be one of the most successful predators in the world. On average they can catch their prey 80% of the time. These dogs are cursorial hunters meaning they pursue their prey in a long, open chase.
They are cunning and stealthy hunters but rely on their incredible vision to locate prey such as wildebeest, impala or zebra. During the hunt dogs will communicate with each other using high pitched yapping calls.
Yorkshire Wildlife Park celebrated the birth of a litter of 7 painted dog puppies in November 2016. Thabo ignored the purpose built house and followed her natural instincts to dig the den in the woodland in their reserve so that she could hide her pups safely underground. Staff at the Park could only watch and wait for the puppies to emerge.
The births are particularly significant after a sharp decline in Painted Dog numbers in the wild. In the past decade, wild populations have dropped from 500,000 to 5,000.
Painted Dogs are the second most endangered carnivore in Africa. In the 1900’s, more than 500,000 dogs roamed Africa across 39 counties. Today, less than 5,000 Painted Dogs remain in just a few countries. People kill Painted Dogs as they are seen as a threat to their farm animals, they are caught in snares which are set for antelope and they are killed on roads. Through these actions humans have managed to reduce Africa’s Painted Dog population to 1% of what it used to be.
Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation (YWPF) is supporting Painted Dogs by raising awareness and funding projects like the vaccination programme through Wildlife Vets International, monitoring their numbers and running anti-poaching patrols in Mozambique and community awareness and research into their behaviour in Zimbabwe through Painted Dog Conservation and Painted Dog Research Trust.
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