A long history

The painted wolf has been part of recorded human life for at least 5,000 years, with the oldest known depiction in a ceramic palette from the Predynastic Naqada period of Ancient Egypt. The Four Dog Palette can be seen in The Louvre in Paris.

A painted pest

After colonisation, painted wolves were considered pests. Perceived as a threat to domestic livestock as well as valuable wild herbivores, many colonial administrations officially declared them as vermin. Some countries even paid rewards for each animal killed. Agricultural magazines outlined methods on how to eliminate them most efficiently. Thousands of animals were slaughtered every decade, until they were finally declared protected, by which time they were extinct in many countries.


Wire snares inflict death and terrible injury on painted wolves. Snares are set for subsistence and commercial hunting outside protected areas and for poaching inside them. The target is for antelope for the bushmeat trade, and painted wolves suffer the terrible side effects of this cruel practice. A highly effective conservation intervention is patrols to remove snares in high risk areas.


Although not common, painted wolves are sometimes targeted for the illegal pet trade. However, they have a gland which omits a strong odour which, thankfully protects them from domestication. This is because, as cute as they are, they stink like hell!