With an estimated 3000 to 5000 African Wild Dogs (also referred to as ‘painted dogs’) left across the entire African continent, it is important that we take a moment today to reflect on these fascinating animals. They may not be as famous as their maned neighbor, the lion, or as breathtaking as the elusive leopard, but when you start to learn more about them, you realise that they are an incredible and unique species.
Finding these packs of wild dogs in the wild often offers one of the most exciting sightings you will experience on your safari. Because they are so social and active, they are always interesting to watch and follow. They have an amazing hunting strategy too, which makes them the most successful hunters out of any of the predatory mammals on the continent. They have an astounding hunting success rate of around 80%. They normally chase down their prey over long distances and wait for the weaker animals in the herd of prey to fall back. This gives them the perfect opportunity to catch their prey.
In the Nyerere National Park (formerly known as Selous Game Reserve) where our camp, Siwandu, is located, you will get a good chance to spot painted dogs. This area is home to the largest population of African Wild Dogs in Africa (and in the world of course). Although we do not know exactly how many wild dogs are located here, it is estimated that there are between 1500 and 2000 in the greater Selous ecosystem. At our camp Jongomero, in the Ruaha National Park, if you are lucky you might stumble upon these beautiful creatures too.
Our Selous Safari Company guides share with us their favorite wild dog moments below:
“One of my favorite sightings of Wild Dog which I will never forget was in Siwandu. On an evening drive, we came across a pack of 23 wild dogs. They were sleeping under the trees. Nearby was a small water hole. After a while the dogs all started to head in the direction of the water hole. It was only then that we realised there was a warthog standing close by. The dogs started to get excited as they tried to catch the warthog. The warthog stood its ground and fought back. In the end the dogs didn’t manage to catch the warthog, but it was an incredible sighting to watch them try to do so.” John Selemani
“My favorite part of wild dog behaviour was revealed one day in the morning as we were heading out of camp. As we reached the junction of the Jongomero camp, we saw wild dog foot prints. It was unclear exactly where the foot prints were leading towards but we decided to turn left to go and look for them. After a while we came across one wild dog crossing the road. It had run ahead a few meters and then stopped. We suddenly heard a ‘pipe blow’ like sound. While we were observing this behaviour, twelve more wild dogs suddenly appeared. It was very interesting to observe how one wild dog could make all the members of the pack join together by a call. They are extremely attentive to communication. I thoroughly enjoyed showing our guests this behaviour.” Apollo Ambilikile
“One morning early on my way walking to the camp, I stopped as I heard the Colobus monkeys screaming. It was very startling as I had never heard these monkeys make such a noise. The next moment, out of nowhere, a monkey came running straight towards me. Right behind it was a few wild dogs chasing it. I got such a huge fright! As the monkey reached me, the wild dogs came to a halt and watched me curiously. The monkey now jumped into a tree behind me. Suddenly (thank goodness!) I heard another pack of wild dogs calling and they quickly turned around and left me to follow these calls. This is an experience I will never forget.” Sultan Mohamed
Christian Kaboko, one of our guides, has also created a short video about why wild dogs are his favorite animal. Please watch it below:
Spotting wild dogs in the wild is an experience you will not forget easily (you can also read this story about our guides out on guide training in Siwandu). Book your stay at one of our beautiful camps, Jongomero (in the Ruaha National Park) or at Siwandu (in the Nyerere National Park). Visit our website at www.selous.com for more information or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to make a booking.