African Wild Dog
African Wild Dog (Painted Wolf)
This active, gregarious species is a favorite of our guides and biologists. It is thrilling to find and follow the dogs, and fascinating to observe their pack behavior.
This is a highly endangered species, and because it ranges over wide areas it is also one of the most difficult species to plan to see.
The best viewing opportunities are during the denning season, when a pack stays near its den for several weeks while the puppies are young. Outside of denning season, the best strategy is to safari in areas that have strong resident packs throughout the year.
African Wild Dog Videos
Best Places to See African Wild Dogs on Safari
Northern Botswana remains the best geographic area for finding and observing wild dogs in a wilderness setting. We keep tabs on numerous den locations throughout the Okavango Delta and Kwando/Selinda/Linyanti region, and can recommend the best camps from which to observe these dens. Outside of the July – September denning season, the November – December impala lambing season has proven to be outstanding for wild dog viewing. The young lambs make for easy and frequent prey for packs that have fast-growing puppies demanding food.
Other Areas of Note
Luangwa Valley and Greater Kafue, Zambia
The Zambia Carnivore Programme has been instrumental in protecting and growing predator populations throughout the country, and are conducting the longest-running wild dog conservation project from the Luangwa Valley. Zambia is among the remaining six countries in Africa to house viable wild dog populations with the largest numbers in the Kafue and South Luangwa National Parks.
The Laikipia area of Kenya has become an excellent area for wild dogs, and many camps are able to use radio-telemetry to track research packs. Sadly, an outbreak of canine distemper disease passed by domestic dogs wiped out almost 90% of the pack in 2017, but the pack has been making a comeback. One female, the alpha female of one of the local packs, lived on by herself for a number of months before meeting a pair of roaming males and denning a few months later. There are several collared males and more that visit the area in search of mates and territory.
Mana Pools, Zimbabwe
Mana Pools in Zimbabwe can rival Northern Botswana for outstanding wild dog viewing and they are often viewed on walking safaris. In September, 2019 a pack of 10 African wild dogs was translocated from Hwange National Park to the eastern boundary of Mana Pools National Park where the pack will be farther from human populations and help to grow the numbers in Mana Pools, which Painted Dog Conservation estimates to have 24 packs and over 200 individuals.
Hwange in Zimbabwe is known for having good sightings. As of 2019, Painted Dog Conservation estimates that there are 32 packs within Hwange National Park.
Madikwe Reserve, South Africa
The Madikwe Game Reserve was founded in 1991 where, over a seven-year period, Operation Phoenix reintroduced more than 8,000 animals (28 species) into the reserve including the African wild dog. It remains the largest and most successful reintroduction program to date. Since their reintroduction, the fenced reserve in South Africa has become a haven and known for it’s wild dog sightings.
The Kakesio area south of the Serengeti can have amazing wild dog action hunting on the open plains during the wildebeest calving season (January through March), but that pack can be challenging to find. By taking a picnic lunch, this can be included as a full day outing from the camps closer to Ndutu for those looking to enjoy the Great Migration calving season as part of their safari experience.
Ruaha National Park is a vital stronghold for keystone species in Tanzania. The park is very large and difficult to explore fully due to the topography and distance, however it holds the third largest population of African wild dogs according to the Ruaha Carnivore Project.
Selous, Tanzania & Niassa Reserve, Mozambique
The Selous region of Tanzania and the Niassa Reserve of Mozambique have some of the largest populations but the areas are large as well, with limited tourism access making sightings unreliable.