What Are African Painted Dogs? Endangered Species Spotted After 40 Years [Photo]



African wild dogs are endangered animals that love a fresh kill.
Pixabay, public domain


  • The Uganda Wildlife Authority shared photos of the African painted dogs spotted Monday
  • The creatures went extinct in Uganda in the 1980s
  • Their population “fluctuates but is in a likely irreversible decline,” authorities said

African wild dogs have been spotted for the first time in decades at a national park in Uganda.

The dogs (Lycaon pictus), also called African painted dogs, reportedly went extinct in Uganda way back in the 1980s. The species is said to be one of the most endangered mammals in the world. By 2020, it was believed that the African painted dog population was just about 6,600 adults.

On Monday, the creatures were once again spotted in Uganda decades after they went extinct in the country. In a tweet, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) shared photos of African painted dogs at Kidepo Valley National Park.

“One of our resident rangers captured these images hastily before the pair skipped out of view,” the UWA said, calling it “exciting news.”

Though the images appear grainy as the creatures seem to be rushing away, one can still see the signature patchy fur in colors brown, white, black, reddish and yellow. Even from afar, their big, rounded ears are also quite visible.

“(O)ur teams in the field will head out to track them, to collect some data vital for conservation. Hopefully we can get you some better images too,” the UWA said in a follow-up tweet.

The return of the creatures does sound like good news. However, the species‘ population is still in decline. The UWA, citing the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said the population “fluctuates but is in a likely irreversible decline.”

Although African painted dogs may not be as popular as other creatures in need of protection like elephants or rhinos, they also have some very interesting characteristics. For instance, their furs are pretty unique as no two of them have the exact same pattern. They are quite social, living in packs ranging from seven to 40, sometimes even 100.

The packs take care of each other and lack aggression toward members of the pack. Both males and females are involved in taking care of the pups.

But these fascinating creatures are also facing various threats like habitat loss, diseases, conflict with people and human activities that decrease the habitats of their prey. In fact, humans are even considered to be among its predators.

So even though the sighting does stoke promise for African painted dogs, the hope is that it would also raise awareness about their plight and the need to take action.

“The threats are many. Loss of quality habitat and poaching represent the biggest problems,” said Peter Blinston, the executive director for Painted Dog Conservation, an organization with the mission to “create an environment where painted dogs can thrive.” “Unless we take action to address these threats, painted dogs will become extinct in our lifetime.”