Tag Archives: African wild dogs

African wild dogs in Moremi Game Reserve

One of the highlights of our visit to the Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana’s Okavango Delta in September was a wonderful sighting of a pack of African wild dogs.  It’s not that common to come across these unusual animals, so when one does it’s a great privilege for game viewers.  We’d been driving around for a while without seeing much activity when we saw a flurry of movement in a clearing of Mopani woodland.  With great excitement we counted at least seventeen wild dogs in the pack, most of which were young pups chasing each other playfully around the area.

African wild dog near Xakanaka, Moremi

The adults, more sedate, lay down under the trees keeping an eye on the activity of the youngsters as they jumped over logs, ran through water or just chased each other around joyfully.  It’s great to be able to enjoy this sort of spectacle and even better to be ready, with cameras on hand, to capture it in detail.  It wasn’t long before we were joined by numerous other game vehicles, all jostling for the best situation for photography.  Fortunately the dogs weren’t phased by the onlookers and they continued to play as if no-one was there, or as if we didn’t deserve their attention!

If you go down to the woods today ....

Wild dog enjoying the water

The African wild dogs that we saw were within a few kilometers of our campsite at Xakanaxa.  With an abundance of small buck in the area, the dogs are never short of food to eat.  A few days before this we saw an alpha male run across the road in front of us with a blood-stained face – obviously having just partaken of a nice juicy meal.  We were disappointed that we didn’t have enough time to photograph him, but the pack of seventeen more than made up for that.

African wild dog near Xakanaka, Moremi

Botswana wildlife authorities spend a lot of time researching these unique animals and they are sometimes collared for tracking and monitoring purposes.  They are particularly concerned about them crossing busy main roads and it is not uncommon to see warning road signs as you near the game reserves.  We were glad that none of our dogs had collars on them – it kind of detracts from a wildlife photograph.

Look out for Wild Dogs

If you’d like more information about African wild dogs, click here for a blog we did on them about two years ago.

Young wild dogs playing

African Wild Dogs – a rare treat

Encountering African wild dogs on a game drive is about as exciting as coming across a lion or a leopard.  These animals are endangered and it is a rare privilege to see them.  They travel in packs of  between six and twenty, so one is always going to see more than just a lone wild dog.

We saw our first African wild dogs at the Harness Wildlife Foundation in Namibia, an ex-cattle farm now dedicated to saving endangered wild animals.  The orphaned animals that they rescue are housed in large enclosures so they maintain the appearance of living in the wild.  All the proceeds taken from tourism are ploughed back into the project and into helping the surrounding local communities.

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Excited to be able to observe them being fed, we climbed up to a lookout platform above their feeding area and were amazed by their strange behaviour when they sensed food was in the offing.  The dogs started to run around each other making strange high-pitched growling noises that sounded decidedly eerie.  Within minutes they were in a feeding frenzy and soon gulped down the food that was thrown into the enclosure.

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They are formidable hunters and their strong jaws make short work of their prey.  In the wild they tend to go for the weak and sick animals.  They work as a team to down their targeted prey and never show aggression towards each other during the hunt.

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No two dogs have the same markings, which makes them quite unique.  Unlike domestic dogs that have five toes, wild dogs only have four toes on each foot.  They have magnificent mottled brown, yellow and black coats and bushy tails with white tips.  Their hearing is enhanced by their large bat-like ears.

A bushy white tipped tail

We came across a pack of wild dogs quite by chance in the Mdumu National Park in the Caprivi.  We’d had a dismal day of animal spotting and the birding wasn’t offering up much either, when we rounded a bend and saw the dogs lying quite near the road.  The excitement that this generated made up for the disappointing hours before and we left the Park later feeling like we’d hit the jackpot!

The pack at Mudumu

The Mdumu Park has the typical habitat for these dogs – woodland – where they are able to prey on young buck, warthogs and any other small animals, birds and rodents.

Wild dog at Mudumu

There is usually only one breeding pair in the pack.  The rest of the group consists mainly of male dogs, as females tend to leave the group in search of their own packs once they pass the nurturing phase.  Occasionally there will be a secondary breeding pair, but this is rare.  Female wild dogs give birth to between ten and sixteen pups (usually more males than females) and these are reared by all the males in the pack.