Valuable conservation research on the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) has identified that its current endangerment is primarily due to human persecution, although habitat alteration, interference competition with other large predators, and disease also are factors. Numerous studies have thus determined what should be avoided to sustain an African wild dog population, yet in this study we identify what is needed to conserve a wild dog population by using Jacobs' index to determine its preferred prey species. Twenty-four assessments of wild dog prey preference were calculated from 18 studies involving 4,874 kills of 45 species from throughout its distributional range. Wild dogs prefer prey within a bimodal body mass range of 16–32 kg and 120–140 kg, which is abundant and less likely to cause injury when hunted. This bimodal range follows that of optimal wild dog pack sizes based on energetic costs and benefits. Greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) and Thomson's gazelle (Gazella thomsonii) are killed by wild dogs wherever they coexist and are significantly preferred. Impala (Aepyceros melampus) and bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus) also are significantly preferred. Our results allow wildlife managers to more accurately assess the survival chances of reintroduced or small wild dog populations by determining if sufficient preferred prey are available. These techniques are applicable to all adequately studied large predators.
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