Conservation status

The painted wolf is listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. With only about 6,500 individuals left, the painted wolf stands on the brink of extinction and urgent action is required to save them.

Habitat loss and fragmentation

The greatest long-term threat to the painted wolf is the loss and fragmentation of their habitat. Painted wolves roam widely across large expanses of land, well outside the boundaries of protected areas. As they are pushed into smaller areas, painted wolves are even more vulnerable to all the other threats that face them.


Diseases such as rabies can wipe out entire packs or populations of painted wolves. Other diseases, such as canine distemper and anthrax, are less well understood. Outbreaks of these diseases can seriously reduce numbers, while some populations seem to persist even with the disease circulating. The reservoirs of many of the harmful diseases are in domestic dog populations, requiring close community engagement.

Road kills

Where there are good roads used by fast-moving traffic through painted wolf habitat, there are often injuries and deaths. In fact, in some painted wolf populations, road accidents contribute to a very high percentage of the mortality.


Painted wolves compete with lion and hyena for prey resources. Lion in particular, are a major threat to painted wolves – a painted wolf population cannot persist in an area with very high densities of lion. As all of Africa’s wildlife is gradually restricted to protected areas, this represents a major long-term threat to the species.