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Scientific name: Lycaon pictus Order: Carnivora Family: Canidae Sole member of the ancient genus Lycaon.
Historic scientific and common names for the species betray taxonomic confusion.
In the Family Canidae, Lycaon pictus translates as `painted wolflike animal’ from the Greek lykaon – a wolf-like animal, and pictus from the Latin pastparticiple of pingere.
This description accurately highlights the vari-coloured patterning of the dogs as well as indicating the similarity in appearance only with ‘true dogs’ genus Canis.
The type ‘Hyaena picta’ from Mozambique was chained by the neck at the house of the well-known naturalist and explorer Burchell and was then named the Cape hunting dog.
The name wild dog developed during the era of persecution of all predators when the name was derogatorily applied to feral dogs, hyaenas, jackals and Cape hunting dogs.
Common names currently include African wild dog, painted hunting dog, painted dog, Cape hunting dog, African hunting dog.
Scientific synonyms include Lycaon tricolor, Hyaena picta.
Formerly placed in its own subfamily, the Simoncyoninae, this division is no longer recognised.
Rasmussen grew up in Zimbabwe and after time the British merchant Navy, returned to Africa to study Zoology and Botany.
From 1989 to date he has both researched and championed the plight of the endangered painted dog.
In Zimbabwe at least he has stopped any slaughter which has not been achieved elsewhere.
He ranks as a thoughtful scientist.
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