Wild or painted…your call
The African wild dog is known by several names in just the English language. One of the more common alternatives is the name ‘painted dog’, which is more in line with the species’ scientific name. The name ‘painted dog’ is championed by many key conservationists including Greg Rasmussen, the director of Painted Dog Conservation, on the grounds that the name ‘wild dog’ evokes sentiments of rabid or feral dogs. Popular blogger retrieverman gives some thorough insight into this issue on his blog and argues that the name of this charismatic canid wouldn’t be such a moot point if the species wasn’t so seriously endangered and in need of some positive PR and rebranding.
Lycaon pictus, to be diplomatic, lives in a continent where it vies for the limelight with other big brand carnivores like lions and leopards and is all too often overlooked by game reserve managers and tourists on safari, not to mention persecuted by farmers. Does the very name ‘African wild dog’ make you think of some feral demon that preys on a farmer’s livelihood and threatens our safety. Does the name jeopardise the conservation push to save the species from sliding further toward extinction? Or does it evoke thoughts of the true African wilderness?
Let me know your thoughts…