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Gorgeous painted wolf  African wild dog

Gorgeous painted wolf - African wild dog

Artwork Type: Print

 Original Pastel on Pastelmat paper fully framed 

 Image size     50 X 38 cm  Original  SOLD

Gorgeous African wild dogs are related to the more common species of canids but are themselves listed on the IUCN Red List of threatened species. With their former habitats drastically fragmented into 39 distinct sub-populations spread over several African countries, their overall number of around 6500 individuals leaves only 550 remaining in South Africa where I have done most of my painted dog study. Because of poaching, land clearance and also shooting and poisoning by farmers their future is in grave doubt. It is a very real prospect that painted dogs in South Africa will become extinct in the next few years if conservation efforts by the few fail to turn the tide of indifference felt by many land owners.

The causes of African wild dogs’ decline are reasonably well understood and include extreme sensitivity to habitat fragmentation as a consequence of wide-ranging behaviour, conflict with livestock and game farmers, accidental killings by snares and road accidents, and infectious disease. All of these causes are associated with human encroachment on African wild dog habitat, and as such, have not ceased and are unlikely to be reversible across the majority of the species’ historical range.

Painted dogs have a matriarchal society and usually only the dominant pack leader will have a litter of up to 10 or so pups. Each dog wears its very own distinctly individual coat and no two are the same. Communication within the pack is through body language such as ear and tail posturing as well as bird-like twittering. The dogs are superb long-distance athletes and have the highest hunting success rate (80%) of any African predator. Once they are committed to the hunt they can run for many kilometres until the prey is literally dropping from exhaustion. The kill is shared by the whole pack and the puppies always come first with the adults regurgitating food for them. Aunties also act as guardians for small pups while the pack is away in search of food. The pups stay around the den until about 4 months old when they are big and strong enough to stay with the pack.

For me I have been blessed to spend a fair bit of time with various dog packs whilst in and around South Africa and Tanzania. The dog in this pastel artwork was part of a small family group of around 8 individuals. They had made a kill the night before and had well stuffed bellies when we came across them drinking and reclining at a shallow stream. As the day began to warm up, they gathered themselves up into a waggly tailed bunch and moved off quickly into the surrounding bush. Happily, we had a very experienced driver with us and he followed the pack until they once more settled into a shadier area and rested along the edge of a narrow track where we were able to sit for a long time just enjoying the blessing which the presence of these sublime creatures brought us. Yes, this painted dog is wild…. yes, it did let us get this close….and no, it was not worried. As always when working with wild creatures I insist that we treat them with 100% awareness and total respect….after all they have been around a lot longer then we humans.

If you wish to assist with Painted Dog conservation please explore  There is some great reading there and you can explore ways you can assist with PDC’s wonderful work.

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“My art is of nature,
 for nature

Steve Morvell


Support our conservation efforts with these beautiful products. 20% from every purchase goes directly to conservation in the field where it does the most good. All prints are on world renowned archival canvas with archival inks and UV protective coating.