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African Wild Dog – A Top Favourite…..

Its social pack structure, beauty and intelligence make the African Wild Dog or African Painted Wolf (Lycaon Pictus) one of the most interesting animals to view whilst on safari. They are not only a favourite for us but our young children too.

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These animals once had large populations, however their numbers have dwindled to an estimated 3000-5000. Due to poaching, disease, tough predator competition and human interference, the African wild dog is the fifth most endangered mammal in Africa. However, incredible conservation efforts have increased populations in many places, and are a true delight and privilege to see in the wild.

African wild dogs are well adapted and successful hunters. While lion have a success rate of about 30-40% on a hunt, these predators when in a pack have about an 80% success rate in making a kill. They have very strong social bonds, and a large part of their success comes from their ability to effectively communicate with one another. There is generally a dominant pair with the alpha female and male typically monopolising the breeding.


The social ‘’greeting’’ that goes on prior to the pack moving off to hunt is quite spectacular, with much noise, yelping (almost talking) and general anticipation. The young listen to the alpha female, and together as a pack are incredible hunters that strategically work together to catch their prey. Young pups (weened at the age of approx. 5 weeks) will stay in the den and eagerly await for the rest of the family to return. The pack members will regurgitate meat to the young pups, and the young are the ones to feed first on a kill, which is quite different to other predators such as lions.


The African wild dog is definitely one of those very special sightings, and whilst we have had the great fortune of seeing many different ones, they are still undoubtedly the top favourite when on safari. Our last experience had them chasing an impala through camp whilst we sipped our early morning coffee, it was truly amazing! They were no more than 100 m away, oblivious to us, only concentrating on their next meal, it was a joy to witness.

Botswana and Zimbabwe have healthy populations of wild dog, along with East Africa where numbers are good. Namibia also have decent numbers which are increasing due to their conservation efforts, so if these incredible animals are on your ‘’wish’’ list, then we can advise on destinations to give you the best possible chance.

Wishing you luck on your safari to spot these amazing animals

Tammy & Alex Chaplin (




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