Help Save African Wild Dogs

Too few people know about the plight of one of the world's most endangered canids, the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) or Africa's "painted wolf." This unique pack-living canid, with its large parabolic ears and mottled coat pattern of yellow, white, and black, once ranged widely throughout Sub-Saharan Africa in 39 countries. Today wild dogs have all but disappeared in 15, with perhaps no more than 3,000–5,500 remaining. Their dramatic decline is largely due to human persecution and habitat fragmentation. The IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Canid Specialist Group, and American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) Canid and Hyaenid Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) regard African wild dogs as a high-priority species for wildlife conservation. Their numbers according to the IUCN Red List are decreasing.

Why Save African Wild Dogs?

Among the top carnivores, wild dogs require large, ecologically diverse areas to survive and may have a significant impact on the structure and function of ecosystems. One of Africa's most efficient predators, wild dogs help regulate prey species that in turn play a role in shaping vegetation communities. Because of habitat requirements and ranging behavior, however, they are threatened by human disturbance and use of natural landscapes. Securing a future for this species, therefore, is an essential part in stemming the loss of biodiversity and preserving a healthy ecosystem. By working with people living with them, we hope to help secure their long-term survival.


Our Approach to Conservation in Practice

Having lived and worked in the African bush for many years, we believe that investing in people and taking an adaptive grassroots approach are necessary to make wild dog conservation efforts sustainable and indeed truly important to enable those most directly affected. The African Wild Dog Conservancy's community conservation project is in the biodiversity hotspots of northeastern and coastal Kenya, a rich mosaic of protected areas and community lands under extreme threat. One way our approach differs from some other projects is that we have taken the time to learn why many community-based conservation efforts have not succeeded:

  1. Our project was started with the support of local people with vision, who recognize that the well-being of wildlife, plants, and people is interconnected, and that healthy ecosystems improve livelihoods.

  2. With this in mind, baseline information on attitudes and concerns is being collected to track project success, document and learn from mistakes, and adapt as needed.

  3. Time is being taken to build good working relationships with local people based on trust, recognizing that there will be bumps along the road, and that conservation and development are not always compatible. We are striving to interweave traditional skills and knowledge, and cultural and religious perspectives with conservation science, training, and education.

Somali family and manyatta

About the African Wild Dog Conservancy

Started in 2001, the African Wild Dog Conservancy is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to working with local communities, and national and international stakeholders to conserve wild dogs through scientific research and education. The AWD Conservancy's objectives are the following:
  1. Establish and support long-term conservation programs involving local communities in research and education

  2. Develop and implement a collaborative multidisciplinary program integrating applied field and captive conservation research

  3. Facilitate development programs aimed at improving the lives of local people by building partnerships with community-based organizations and NGOs