Get access

Ranging behaviour of African wild dog packs in a human-dominated landscape


  • Editor: Nigel Bennett

Rosie Woodroffe, Institute of Zoology, Regent's Park, London NW1 4RY, UK.


Movement behaviour is a key component of species' vulnerability to extinction. African wild dogs' Lycaon pictus endangerment has been linked to their wide-ranging behaviour, which is hypothesized to expose them to anthropogenic threats in fragmented habitats. I therefore investigated wild dog movement patterns in an area of Kenya where livestock out-number wild ungulates. In the 9 years of the study, wild dog population density increased from 0.9 to 3.4 adults and yearlings per 100 km2. Home-range size remained unchanged over this time, but overlap between neighbouring home ranges increased. Nevertheless, packs avoided one another and showed evidence of territoriality. Home ranges were of similar size on commercial ranches and community lands, even though people and livestock were abundant, and competitors and large prey depleted, in the latter land use. Packs showed significant habitat preference; in particular, low human densities on commercial ranches, and zoning of settlement on community lands, facilitated wild dog avoidance of human activities and livestock. These findings suggest that, under the right circumstances, wild dogs may be able to avoid anthropogenic threats and thrive in human-dominated landscapes. However, elsewhere in Kenya traditional livestock husbandry is being abandoned and community land is being subdivided. Such changes would greatly reduce wild dogs' ability to survive in pastoral areas.