The animal on the cover of Rails Cookbook is a Cape hunting dog (Lycaon pictus), also known as the painted wolf or African wild dog. Cape hunting dogs are only found in African plains and semi-desert areas. Both male and female Cape hunting dogs weigh about 45 to 60 pounds (20 to 27 kg) and measure 30 to 40 inches (76 to 112 cm) long;unlike other species of dogs, they have only four toes. Although the coloring of each dog's coat is distinct, they all have black muzzles and the tips of their tails are white.
Cape hunting dogs have exceptional eyesight and large round ears that provide the dogs with their primary sensory source when stalking prey. They can run up to 37 miles per hour and have an extraordinarily high kill rate (98 percent). Their diet is carnivorous and includes gazelle, zebra, antelope, and kudu; they stay hydrated from the blood of their prey. Cape hunting dogs will not scavenge for food, unlike their sworn enemy,the hyena. Although Cape hunting dogs have a fairly bad reputation with farmers, they very rarely, if ever, hunt livestock and tend to live as far away from humans as possible.
These dogs travel in a family oriented pack and regurgitate meals for members that are unable to join the chase, such as new mothers and injured dogs. The males live together peacefully, but since only the alpha female is allowed to breed, females tend to viciously fight for this honor or leave the pack. The Cape hunting dog is in danger of extinction due to decreased territory, human-caused mortality (mostly poisoning and snaring),and diseases from domestic dogs.