Listed as Near Threatened as although the species occurs in a variety of habitats across a large range, it is nowhere abundant and occurs at very low densities. Currently, the population is estimated to number fewer than 15,000 mature individuals, and is thought likely to experience a continuing decline nearing 10% over the coming decade largely as a result of ongoing habitat loss and degradation. Almost qualifies as threatened under criterion C1.
Population trend: Unknown
Habitat and Ecology: Bush Dogs are reported to be a habitat generalist by indigenous peoples, within the context of occurring generally near water sources, particularly small streams, and near available prey populations, especially Agouti paca (O. Carrillo and M. Swarner, pers. obs.). Bush Dogs have been observed in lowland (below 1,500 m) forested habitats including primary and gallery forest (Defler 1986), semi-deciduous forest, and seasonally flooded forest (Aquino and Puertas 1997). Observations have also been recorded from cerrado habitat in Brazil (Silveira et al. 1998; C. Brady pers. comm.) and Paraguay (Zuercher and Villalba 2002) and pampas (wet savanna) edge/riparian areas (Strahl et al. 1992; Emmons 1998). In some cases, they have been observed several kilometres from forest habitat (Silveira et al. 1998). The species is also occasionally reported from secondary forest, ranchland (M. Swarner, pers. obs.) and fragmented cerrado ranchland (L. Silveira and A. Jácomo pers. comm.).
Major Threats: The only serious perceived threat is from habitat conversion and human encroachment.
A detailed summary of the biology and conservation status of this species from the CSG's Canids: Foxes, Wolves, Jackals and Dogs - 2004 Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan) is available on-line here.
Conservation Actions: Included in CITES – Appendix I. Occurs in several protected areas throughout its range.
Hunting is prohibited in Colombia (Law Number 848:1973), Ecuador (Law Number 74:1981), French Guiana (Law Number JO19860625:1986), Panama (Law Number 2-80:1980), Paraguay (Law Number 18796:1975) and Peru (Law Number 5056:1970). Hunting and trade is regulated in Argentina (Law Number 22.421:1981), Bolivia (Law Number 12301:1975), Brazil (Law Number 5197:191967), and Venezuela (Law Number 276:1970). There is no Information for Guyana and Suriname.
Bush Dogs do occur in captivity and are breeding successfully. No known attempts at reintroduction.
Gaps in knowledge:The distribution of bush dogs should be re-evaluated. There are no population estimates or demographic data for bush dogs in any of their range countries. Our understanding of dietary habits is based mostly on anecdotal information and does not address seasonal or geographic variation. Habitat associations are not clearly understood – the species was once thought to be dependent on forests but is now regularly observed in open habitats. The impact of disease, both historically and currently, is unclear (this is especially true for diseases introduced by domestic animals). Accepted ideas of behaviour and social structure, obtained from captive animals, have not yet been verified in wild populations. Interspecific relationships with sympatric carnivores need to be further evaluated.
Bush Dog - © Gerald L Zuercher
For more photos and videos of this and other wild canid species, see:
English: Savannah Dog, Vinegar Dog; French: Chiens des buissons, zorro; Spaniosh: Cachorro Vinagre, Guanfando, Pero Selvático, Perrito Venadero, Perro De Agua, Perro De La Selva, Perro De Monte, Umba, Zorrito Vinagre.