22 April 2024

Pack of Endangered African Painted Dogs Arrive at Longleat

Longleat has welcomed a bachelor pack of six male African painted as part of a major new animal feature which opened last week.

The pack, whose names are Ru, Kuwinda, Kenya, Rafiy, Tassili and Tan (see below for meaning and pronunciation), is settling in to its new home in the African Village, also home to Rothschild’s giraffes, Grant’s zebras, ring-tailed lemurs and more, as part of the Drive Through Safari.

Their expansive, purpose-built home will allow members of the public to walk right up to the enclosure and see them enjoying their surroundings during an African Village pitstop, adding a unique perspective to their safari experience.

With floor-to-ceiling windows, the African Painted Dog Lookout offers fantastic viewing opportunities and the chance to get up close to the pack while learning about their characteristics and amazing abilities. It also features information to help teach people how the painted predators measure up compared to Longleat’s other safari favourites.

Jon Merrington, Head of Safari at Longleat, said, “With their detailed coat patterns and interesting social behaviours, African painted dogs are one of the most striking and charismatic animals in the animal kingdom.

“Packs are tight knit and incredible at working together as a team. This makes them one of the most effective hunters with an 80% success rate (compared to 30% for lions). Despite this they are an endangered species.

“By holding a bachelor group of males and working with our conservation partner TUSK, we are supporting positive outcomes for African painted dogs, both in their African home ranges and in the European breeding programme.

“They are highly social animals with a wide variety of behaviours used for communication, hunting and play. Some of our keepers have visited the dogs at their current home and it’s been great to see the personalities coming to join us.

“We’re busy working on their new home and it’s fantastic watching it all come together. They’re a playful pack and we can’t wait to welcome them here”, he added.

African painted dogs are classified as an endangered species, and their numbers are continuing to decline according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.

There are approximately 7,000 dogs left in the wild, with only 1,400 mature adults. Their largest threat is habitat loss and fragmentation, particularly from the increase in human settlements and infrastructure. The species is supported by TUSK, a conservation charity with whom Longleat has worked closely for over 15 years.

What do their names mean?

Ru (roo) – short for Ruaha, a Tanzanian National Park with a good population of African painted dogs, heavily linked to conservation of the species.

Kuwinda (coo-win-duh) – Translated from Swahili, Kuwinda means hunt. The species is also referred to as African hunting dogs, renowned for their hunting ability. 

Kenya (ken-yuh) – has one of the last remaining strongholds of painted dog populations.

Rafiy (rah-fee) – the name of a famous African artist, links to the painted element of the name and African heritage.

Tassili (tah-silly) – African cave painting prehistory in Algeria, with links to early humans living with wildlife. 

Tan – short for Tanzania, home of Ruaha National Park. This dog also has mostly tan coloured markings.

Written by
Andy Munns
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Written by Andy Munns