Africa’s wild dogs, nearly driven to extinction by hunters and dwindling habitat, are making a comeback. Nine dogs — some wild, some raised in captivity — will be released today in South Africa’s Pilanesberg Game Reserve, and if the pack survives in its new home, it will be the first time in decades that the animal has lived in this area of South Africa. The dogs once thrived in virtually every habitat in sub-Saharan Africa, but now there are believed to be only about 4,000 in the wild. Public opinion about the dogs has made a 180-degree turn in recent years: Once vilified as vicious predators, the animals are now viewed as important players in various ecosystems, and corporate and private donations are pouring in to help save them.