Huge ears, unique markings, sociable pack dynamic.
African Wild Dog
African wild dogs,
lycaon pictus, painted dogs, African hunting dogs, whatever you call them these beautiful animals are high on the wish list of many wildlife enthusiasts. It is estimated that there are only about 5,000 painted dogs left in the wild. They are considered ‘endangered’, mainly due to loss of habitat and in certain areas due to human/wildlife conflict.
The good news is that over one third of the remaining population can be found in Botswana. Whilst it is of course never guaranteed, there are some areas where you are more likely to have sightings than others, but given that each pack has a vast territory, and they can cover a lot of ground, it’s always a challenge.
Each year, between June and August, the dogs will den so that the alpha female can give birth to her litter. This is a good time to visit if you are keen to see them. In areas where they are known the guides will have an idea of where they are denning and chances of a sighting will increase. When they den and have young in the pack, they tend to hunt from the den, returning each time until the pups are strong enough to keep up with the pack, then it becomes harder to track them as they no longer have a home base, and will roam their vast territory.
A highlight at a wild dog sighting, is when they wake after their daily siesta, and begin chitter chattering to each other, running around, sniffing, playing, accompanied by high-pitch squeals – it’s almost as if they are getting ready to go out and are discussing where they are heading off to and what they are going to hunt. It’s quite mesmerising, and then they head off in search of their prey.
“Each dog has individual markings – no two are alike”
Interesting wild dog facts…..
• African wild dogs have an 80% success rate when hunting, they hunt as a pack
• They will never feed on another animal’s kill
• Pack sizes vary, large packs often split to form new packs
• Only the alpha male and female will mate
• The gestation period of wild dogs is 2.5 months
• Lions are a major threat to wild dogs
• Wild dogs play a prominent role in the mythology of the San people
• The average litter size is 10, though they can have up to 20 pups
• Lycaon pictus translates as painted wolf
Where are the best places to see wild dogs in Botsawna? As we said earlier sightings are never guaranteed but two ‘wild dog hotspots’ in Botswana are Khwai and also Linyanti. The Kwando concession in particular has a good track record with consistent sightings from both Lagoon and Lebala camps. If wild dogs are what you are after, chat to our consultants and they will do their best to fulfil your wishes.