Threats to Wild Dogs

Habitat fragmentation, persecution and loss of prey were the major causes of wild dogs' historic decline, and these factors still represent the principal threats today.


Wild dogs were actively destroyed by wildlife managers in most areas until the later part of the 20th century, due to a perception that their method of killing prey was cruel, and that their cursorial hunting was disruptive for ungulate populations. Over five thousand wild dogs were shot in Zambia alone over a fifteen year period.

Beginning in the 1970's, institutionalised culling of wild dogs came to an end and they are now legally protected in the seven nations that hold substantial numbers. Snaring and other human-caused deaths remain a substantial cause of mortality in some populations.

Road kills

Road traffic accidents may be the single most important cause of adult mortality where wild dogs occupy areas with good roads used by fast-moving traffic. More than half the recorded adult mortality in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe is caused by accidents on the road between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. Even wild dogs living in large protected areas may stray over reserve borders where they are threatened by human activities.

dog snared


Illegal snares can cause a significant proportion of wild dog mortality, even for populations living inside protected areas. In most places the snares are not set to catch wild dogs: they are caught accidentally in snares set for antelope (for bushmeat).Thus wild dog mortality is an incidental consequence of subsistence and commercial hunting outside protected areas and poaching inside them.



Competition with larger carnivores such as hyaenas and lions may force wild dogs out of protected areas and into high-risk areas, although this depends on the number of each species present and the type of habitat.

The impacts of inter-predator competition on wild dogs can include direct killing, interference competition at kills, loss of food, and exclusion from areas of high prey density.



Disease epidemics can be a serious threat to wild dogs and have previously caused population declines in some areas of Africa. The presence of people dramatically increases the disease risk to wild dogs, because domestic dogs provide a reservoir host for canid diseases. Diseases which have been isolated from free ranging wild dog populations include: rabies, canine distemper, parvo-virus, anthrax, and canine ehrlichosis. Rabies and canine distemper virus (CDV) have both been indicated as causes of local extinctions in wild dog populations and many other less severe diseases carried by domestic dogs have reduced wild dog numbers.


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