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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Canidae (foxes, dogs and jackals)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Synapsida (mammal-like reptiles) > Therapsida > Theriodontia >  Cynodontia > Mammalia (mammals) > Placentalia (placental mammals) > Laurasiatheria > Ferungulata > Ferae > Carnivora

Species indigenous to southern Africa

Otocyon megalotis (Bat-eared fox)

Bat eared foxes are mainly nocturnal but are seen during the morning or evening, avoiding the heat of the day by sheltering in vegetation or burrows. They locate their prey (insects such as beetle grubs and termites) primarily by hearing, hence the large ears. It is the only carnivore to have largely given up eating mammalian prey.

Lycaon pictus (African wild dog)

Once widespread in subsaharan Africa, the distribution of the African wild dog is now limited to a few large game reserves and wild areas, and is classified as endangered by the IUCN. It lives and hunts in packs with a dominant male and female in each pack. The pack assists the alpha female in rearing and protecting her litters of puppies. Packs require large home ranges and hunt down prey such as antelope over long distances, eventually dragging the exhausted prey to the ground and tearing it open.

Vulpes chama (Cape fox)

The only true fox found in southern Africa. They are active mainly at night although can be seen in the early morning and evening. Pairs mate for life and rear their litters in burrows. Prey consists mainly of invertebrates and rodents but they also hunt birds and reptiles. They also do sometimes kill new born lambs (up to three months old) on sheep farms but it has been shown that this is rare and the effect of this on sheep stocks is negligible.

Canis adustus (Side-striped jackal)

Canis mesomelas (Black-backed jackal)

Widespread in southern Africa but has been exterminated in some farming areas as it attacks livestock. Pairs mate for life and rear their litters in underground burrows made by other animals. They are sometimes assisted by subadults from their previoius year's litter. They eat a wide range of prey from invertebrates to small antelope and even consume fruit.

Domesticated species in southern Africa

Canis lupus familiaris (Dog)