The African wild dog is a pack animal that is roughly the same size as a domesticated dog. The African wild dog lives in the open savanna regions of Africa, where it faces severe threats from encroaching human civilization. While the presence of farmers who hunt and kill these canines in an effort to feel safer about their livestock inflicts damage on their numbers, the threat of disease carried by domestic dogs is even greater. The African wild dog does have natural predators that it must avoid.
Lions outweigh African wild dogs by a considerable margin, with the dogs weighing approximately 40 to 70 pounds and the lions capable of weighing well over 400 pounds. The African wild dog is no match physically for this feline, a species that also lives in groups and hunts in packs for the most part. Lions and African wild dogs are mortal enemies, with lions often killing as many wild dogs as they have the opportunity to, usually dispatching the pups. Lions do not eat the African wild dog when they kill it, making it hard to decipher why they attack them. The success rate of African wild dog hunts is much greater as opposed to that of the lions. Lions will often resort to stealing an animal killed by wild dogs rather than hunt and kill something on their own.
The spotted hyena is another predator of the African wild dog. This mammal is a skilled hunter in its own right, but will often scavenge the kill of other creatures, including lions and African wild dogs. The spotted hyena is the largest of the three types of hyena species, with the National Geographic website reporting that they can range between 110 and 190 pounds. This makes them more than twice the size of the African wild dog. The spotted hyena possesses incredibly strong jaws, and the animal lives in clans as well, with the ability to outnumber the wild dogs and kill them if they must to steal their food.
Surviving Against Enemies
The main food source for the African wild dog is often the same as that of its two major predators. The African wild dog targets creatures such as zebra, wildebeest, warthogs, impalas and other gazelles. Once they make a kill, the African wild dog pack quickly consumes its meal, but in a rather orderly fashion, to avoid any run-ins with lions or hyenas.
The African wild dog has the ability to defend itself when they outnumber a lone lion or one or two hyenas. African wild dogs that become the injured casualties of hyena and lion attacks receive help from the other members of their pack. The hurt dog will receive its portion of meat to consume until it is healthy and other dogs will actually lick its wounds to help them heal quicker.
About the Author
John Lindell has written articles for "The Greyhound Review" and various other online publications. A Connecticut native, his work specializes in sports, fishing and nature. Lindell worked in greyhound racing for 25 years.
running spotted hyena image by antoine perroud from Fotolia.com