Human-wildlife conflict is driving African wild dogs to extinction.

African wild dogs have been endangered for over 20 years, and now only 6,600 of them remain in the wild. The principal threat to this species is habitat fragmentation driven by unsustainable development. Human-wildlife conflict is all but inevitable with wild dogs roaming a much smaller ecosystem in such close proximity to people. Small, isolated populations are also much more vulnerable to disease outbreaks.

We've seen this land use challenge with so many species, where it seems at first like the needs of wildlife and communities compete. But it doesn't have to be this way... in fact, there's a way forward for wildlife conservation and sustainable development by:

  • Mitigating Human-Wildlife Conflict. Retaliation for lost livestock is the primary reason for African wild dog killings. We work with communities to help them construct bomas – predator-proof enclosures – that protect livestock.

  • Engaging Local Communities. To help protect wild dogs in Hwange National Park, African Wildlife Foundation funded Painted Dog Conservation, an organization with a long history of conserving African wild dogs. With this support, Painted Dog Conservation expanded its anti-poaching unit and built up its community outreach campaign, aptly named 'Zero Tolerance to Wildlife Crime.' Painted Dog Conservation supplements ranger patrols with community outreach for the simple reason that poachers often come from local communities. In areas with regular ground patrol presence, a reduction in poaching activity has been reported and local communities attitudes towards wild dogs are generally more positive.

  • Bringing together African policymakers. We are at a turning point for land use on the continent – will we choose between conservation and development, or will we break down the false choice? AWF supports African leaders from the grassroots level to heads of state in the movement to properly protect habitats and ecosystems, support sustainable livelihoods, and ensure that human rights and well-being are at the core of conservation strategies. This month, AWF and partners are convening the inaugural Africa Protected Areas Congress, a first-of-its-kind gathering of leaders from around the continent that will move the needle on these key issues.

Can we count on you to be one of 25,000 advocates to pledge to raise awareness about the threats to this lesser-known underdog – and the win-win solutions for habitats and human livelihoods alike?