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African Wild dogs are admired all around the world for their beautiful colours and their exceptional hunting techniques. These dogs are very special to see in the wild, if you’d like to learn more about these amazing dogs, you’re in the right place!
The below headings will guide you through specific detailed information- like where to see African Wild dogs, otherwise just enjoy they whole blog in its entirety. Also, feel free to comment below what you thought or your own experiences with African Wild dogs.
Wild Dogs are known to be quite social and very intelligent dogs. African Wild dogs live in packs averaging from seven to 15 members and sometimes even up to 40 dogs. Before the recent population decline, packs of up to 100 were recorded.
Within the pack, these canines have a very unique social structure. They cooperate in taking care of the wounded and sick members, there is a general lack of aggression exhibited between members of the pack, and there is little to no intimidation among the social hierarchy. Scientists have learnt that every hunting pack has a dominant pair.
All other members of the pack play a subordinate role to the alpha pair. This pair is usually the only pair that remains monogamous for life. Wild dogs also have a large range of vocalisations that include a short bark of alarm, a rallying howl, and a bell-like contact call that can be heard over very long distances. Elaborate greeting rituals are accompanied by sweet twittering and whining.
Hunting and Diet
Wild dogs are high-stamina hunters, capable of maintaining a 40km/h pace over five kilometres and increasing this to bursts of more than 60km/h for short distances. The pack splits up during the hunt, with some dogs trying to drive the fleeing prey in a circle towards the others.
If this fails, they press on with determination, taking it in relays to increase the pace, nipping and tearing at the fleeing victim each time it slows down. They literally run their quarry to exhaustion. Once the animal collapses, the dogs immediately begin feeding, even before their prey has died from loss of blood.
Unlike hyena, which feast noisily and chaotically, wild dogs are restrained and orderly at the kill. The young feed first, followed by the subordinate males and females, with the alpha pair eating at any time. Each dog awaits its turn, and if there is not enough food to go round, the hunt begins again.
Subordinate females support nursing wild dog females who remain at the den. They will stuff themselves with food and then go back to the den to regurgitate the remains for the mother and her young to eat.
The 5 Best Places to See African Wild Dog
A list of the top five places to see African Wild dogs follow as they are scattered fairly widely over Africa, being found predominantly in savannah-like terrain.
If you/re interested in visiting African Wild dogs, take a look at the operators below who could help you in this quest.
- The Kruger National Park
South Africa has been revolutionary in its African wild dog conservation efforts. A hugely successful reintroduction programme was implemented in the late 1990s following the realisation that the only place left in the country with a viable population of the animals was Kruger National Park. A 20-year effort saw African wild dogs reintroduced to multiple game reserves and national parks across South Africa and a tripling of the country’s population of this intriguing species.
Reintroductions continue to date, but sometimes the original is best. Home to the highest population of African wild dogs anywhere in the country, the south of Kruger National Park (and surrounding game reserves such as Thornybush) is still the best place to see African wild dogs in South Africa.
2. Okavango Delta, Botswana
We really don’t think we need to give you another excuse to visit the Okavango Delta, what with its wild, lush landscapes and huge diversity of animals… but this UNESCO world heritage site is home to one of the highest African wild dog populations anywhere in the world and is considered to be the last stronghold of this species. So, taking a safari around Moremi Game Reserve, Khwai or even heading out to Linyanti will give you pretty good odds of sneaking a peak of a pack.
3. Ruaha National Park, Tanzania
Ruaha National Park is one of Africa’s last remaining wildernesses, perfect for African wild dogs which need a very large area to roam around in and don’t really like to come into contact with humans all that much. Ruaha is not only home to the third largest population of African wild dogs in the world but it also home to 10% of the global African lion population. So now you have at least two excuses to make it your next safari destination.
4. Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique
Despite being late to the party, Gorongosa National Park is showing signs of becoming an important outpost for the species. As part of the Carr Foundation’s 20-year plan to bring Gorongosa back to the spectacular wilderness it once was, 14 wild dogs were introduced to this protected area earlier this year and there are a lot of plans afoot for future reintroductions. With all the exciting upcoming plans, you should start planning your trip now before everyone finds out about this incredible spot.
5. Mana Pools, Zimbabwe
And finally, Mana Pools in Zimbabwe. We couldn’t leave this one out as the Dynasties episode was actually filmed here, you might even spot one of the stars of the show! And if you really want to get close to the action, you could stay at Vundu Camp where the BBC team were based during filming.
Seeing African wild dogs from a vehicle is one thing, but at Mana Pools you also have the opportunity to trek on foot with some of the best walking guides on the continent, in search of these elusive creatures. If you ever wanted to feel a deep connection to nature, we’re certain you’ll find it here!
So, there you have it, our thoughts on the best places to see African wild dogs in southern and eastern Africa. We really believe that the more people who see these carnivores and support their conservation the better – so next time your safari guide asks you “what would you like to see today?”, maybe skip the Big 5 and put a request in for these beautiful animals instead.
10 Interesting facts about Painted Wolves
Painted wolves (African wild dogs) are not as well known as Africa’s other predators, and certainly misunderstood. For starters, they are not dogs, or wolves. They are critically endangered, with only about 5,000 to 6,000 adults left in the wild, and sightings of these graceful predators are rare outside of specific areas.
1. Unique physique
Their scientific name, Lycaon pictus, literally means painted wolf, referencing their mottled fur with black, brown, yellow and white colourings. Every individual’s coat has a unique pattern, which helps with identification.
They have an extremely powerful bite – with specialised molars for shearing meat and breaking bone – and exceptionally keen senses of sight, smell and particularly hearing. Large rounded ears lined with numerous muscles allow them to swivel like radar dishes, picking up the minutest of sounds. Long legs, a lean build and rapid muscle recovery all assist in making this animal a formidable endurance hunter.
2. Close social structures and strong pack hierarchy
The social structure of a painted wolf pack is a fascinating, almost altruistic system. Like other pack animals there is a strict hierarchy – the pack is dominated by the matriarch, and usually the alpha pair are the only ones to breed. When a litter of pups is born, they take priority over even the alphas.
At first pups are fed by pack members that regurgitate fresh meat after returning from a hunt, but once old enough, they are taken to the kill and given first choice over the spoils. Adult pack members patiently wait on the side lines, standing guard until their turn to feed.
3. Females rule
The alpha female is the core of the pack – leading her pack from its formation until she dies. She is the leader, general, decision maker and caring mother. Once she dies the pack splits, with the males and females heading in different directions to form new packs.
4. Nomadic nature
Painted wolves are nomadic animals and can traverse 50km in a single day. As a result, their territories can range between 400 and 1500 square kilometres. They only remain in one area when denning.
5. Coordinated when hunting
The 80% success rate in painted wolf hunts can be attributed mainly to the coordinated nature of the pack. Communication is key and the pack members constantly let one another know both their location and that of the prey. Their high intelligence and teamwork allows them to adapt to changing scenarios during a hunt.
6. Enemies – man and beast
Humans are easily the largest threat to the painted wolfs’ survival. For a very long time they were viewed as ‘pests’, even by conservation authorities, and exterminated in large numbers (read the next paragraph below). They have been recorded killing livestock if no other prey is available, but there exists no recorded incident of painted wolves attacking humans. Painted wolves are regularly killed by livestock farmers, and they also fall prey to snares and poison set for other wildlife.
Many painted wolves die from diseases such as rabies, usually contracted from domestic dogs. Because of their highly social nature one rabid painted wolf will quickly infect the rest of the pack, often wiping the entire pack out. In the wild, lions are the painted wolf’s main threat. Usually areas with high lion populations have low population of painted wolves. Other predators such as hyena, leopard and python also kill painted wolves, especially young ones.
7. Exterminated in the name of conservation
Generous bounties were historically offered by colonial administrations for each painted wolf’s death and visitors were even allowed to shoot them on sight in many of Africa’s protected parks. In Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), they were considered a ‘problem animal’ right up until 1977. In 1975 alone, 3,404 painted wolves were destroyed in vermin control operations.
8. Relationship values
The dominant pair is monogamous and would usually be the only ones in the pack to breed, though a beta pair does sometimes produce pups as well, which are then either killed or adopted by the alpha pair. Each litter can have between four and 12 pups. Unlike most other pack animals, male painted wolves tend to stay within their pack’s territory once reaching sexual maturity, whereas the females will travel long distances to find a mate and start or join a new pack. This behaviour is a good countermeasure against inbreeding
9. Interesting genetics
Painted wolves used to be found across the African continent, but are now limited to countries in the south and east of Africa, the main strongholds being in Botswana’s Okavango Delta and the Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve. East African painted wolves are slightly smaller than their counterparts in the south.
There are five subspecies of painted wolf; the Cape, East African, West African, Chadian and Somali, though the genetic diversity of these subdivisions is under debate. Although painted wolves do share a common ancestor with wolves from a few million years ago, they are not genetically compatible, so interbreeding with any other canids isn’t possible. The selective breeding applied to domesticated dogs which formed the different breeds could never work with painted wolves.
10. They cannot be domesticated
People have attempted to tame painted wolves, but never successfully. They are naturally distrusting of humans or indeed any animal outside of their own pack. When humans have domesticated dogs in the past, it was due to certain character traits prevalent in canines that could be amplified through breeding. One of these traits was a willingness to be touched by humans. This, combined with traits of curiosity and opportunism, paved the way for humanity’s greatest symbiotic relationship with an animal affectionately named “man’s best friend.” Painted wolves have never displayed these traits and it is unlikely they ever will.
Major threats to the survival of wild dogs include accidental and targeted killings by humans, viral diseases like rabies and distemper, habitat loss and competition with larger predators like lions.
Conflicts occur when wild dogs come in contact with people whose livelihoods rest largely on livestock and agriculture. Problems arise when expanding human activities decrease the habitat for available prey for wild dogs.
Sadly, according to the IUCN Red List, these dogs have been reported as endangered. As mentioned above, packs used to be near almost 100 dogs, now packs average around 15 dogs per pack. And with only 6600 individuals left in the wild, they are also one of Africa’s most endangered species.
Summary on The 5 Best Places to See African Wild Dogs
Clearly, these stunning animals are in danger and are worth protecting at all costs. Finding out where to see African wild dogs, could be key to their survival in the future.