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The African Hunting Dog, one of the world's rarest predators, has returned to Ol Pejeta conservancy in Kenya. A pack of the very rare and endangered African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus) was sighted on the North Western side of Ol Pejeta Conservancy on the 2nd of July 2009.  The African Wild Dog or “Painted Wolf” was last seen on the Conservancy 3 years ago.

The African Wild dog (Lycaon pictus) is one of the rarest carnivores in Africa, having disappeared from large parts of their former ranges. The Wild Dog’s endangered status is owed mostly to habitat loss and hunting.  Moving in packs of up to 20 individuals, they travel over very large territories and, in the process, tend to wander into human settlements where they may prey on goats and sheep, therefore endangering themselves at the hands of the farmers.

The Photo above was taken by Stephen Siapan of Ol Pejeta, who spotted this pack

Hunting Dogs closely resemble wolves in body shape, but have mottled reddish brown striped markings, and distinctive large ears. They are gregarious animals that form packs of up to 40 members.

Early in the 20th Century packs of up to 100 animals had been recorded, but now average at around 15 members. Packs have both a dominant male and female, acting as a dominant pair. Female dogs usually leave the pack at 2 1/2 years or older to join other packs while approximately half of young males will stay with their father's pack, the rest leaving to form a new pack together.

African Wild Dogs hunt in packs led by the alpha male, mainly hunting in the morning and early evening. They will hunt at night with a full moon. They generally use their sense of sight, rather than smell to find prey. Hunts can last for several kilometers at speeds of up to 55 km/hour.

Wild dogs generally live on the move, though breeding females give birth to litters in a grass-lined burrow that is usually an abandoned aardvark hole. Litters normally consist of anywhere between 2 and 22 pups.

Wild Dogs are now endangered all over Africa, due to habitat loss and hunting. Their sudden return to Ol Pejeta is a result of a concerted conservation effort throughout the Laikipia region , now considered one of Kenya's finest wildlife reserves.

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy works to conserve wildlife, provide a sanctuary for great apes and to generate income through wildlife tourism and complementary enterprise for reinvestment in conservation and community development.