Have you ever heard the surprising sound that African wild dogs make? It’s bewildering.
Their collective calls are more bird-like in nature and sound like the twittering chirps of canaries, rather than the expected howling sounds of wolves or the gruff bark of a dog. The sweet sound of their chattering is misleading, though. In every other way, these pack animals are candidly canine.
In Botswana, these characterful creatures are simply called ‘Wild dogs’. Incredibly beautiful to spot on safari, their Latin name Lycaon pictus means ‘painted wolf’ and refers to the animal’s handsome mottled coat, which features patches of brown, white, black, ochre and yellow fur. Their name in Setswana is Letlhalerwa.
With just over 6000 dogs left out in the wild, the largest populations can be found in southern Africa with a highly concentrated area spread across northern Botswana.
Why are Wild dogs so sought after?
According to the World Wildlife Fund, the Wild dog is one of the world’s most endangered mammals and the second-most endangered carnivore in Africa after the Ethiopian Wolf.
In short. Their numbers are dropping because their habitats are being broken up, which in turn increases human-wildlife conflict. The dogs will prey on easy-to-get livestock and being closer to domesticated areas also increases the chance of catching disease, such as canine distemper. Wild dogs require an enormous territory, but they’re losing the spaces in which they were once able to roam freely.
Thank goodness then, for the ‘last eden in Africa’. Essentially, the entire northern area of Botswana is dedicated to wilderness. Places such as the Okavango Delta, Moremi and Chobe National Park along with the concession areas, such as Kwando and Linyanti, safe spaces, buffer zones and corridors provide protection for the charismatic African wild dog. They are said to have the largest home ranges of any mammal so these enormous spaces are vital to the thriving populations of Wild dog found here.
Where to see Wild dogs in Botswana?
Base yourself in northern Botswana to drastically up the chance of seeing Wild dogs. In June, the dogs will seek out a safe space to raise their pups and often, they stay in the den and surrounding area. A knowledgeable guide or top tracker who know the location of these dens will almost guarantee a Wild dog sighting.
The best places to see Wild dog in Botswana.
● The Okavango Delta. Expert guides across the Okavango Delta track and protect various packs of Wild dogs. Protected by the Moremi Game Reserve and plenty of private wildlife concessions, the Delta is home to huge numbers of antelope and other game making it a predator paradise. The Okavango Delta is a world-famous stronghold for Wild dog.
● Kwando. The Kwando Reserve in the greater Kwando-Linyanti region spans 232000 hectares, which is 30 times the size of Manhattan and has just two camps. Besides the joy of pristine wilderness and isolation, the area is a Wild dog hotspot and popular denning site. Wild dogs move at an incredible pace when they’re active and on the hunt. Being in a private concession also means that you can go off-road to better follow them and get closer to sightings (without interfering with their natural behaviour). Night drives are also available and there’s the chance of catching up with their nocturnal activity too.
● Chobe. More famous for its incredible elephants, the northern Chobe region is an easily-accessible place for finding Wild dog. There’s a wide range of accommodation here and is a destination that combines easily with Victoria Falls
Watch our immersive Virtual Reality Wild Dog safari
Today, you can find African wild dogs hunting in formidable, cooperative packs of between six and 20. Larger packs were more common before the dogs became endangered. Here’s what it’s like to spend time with the curious African wild dog.
Book an African wild dog safari
Inspired? Our Wild dog safaris are not only designed to introduce wildlife enthusiasts to this spectacular animal, they are also specially crafted to protect this vulnerable species and ensure its future survival.