The African wild dog is one of the most endangered mammals in the world.With barely 6000 numbers surviving in the wild it is no wonder that nature enthusiasts from all over the world come to Africa even if it is just to get a glimpse of these fascinating social animal species.
African wild dogs are among the rarest wildlife species that can be spotted in Africa.That said, travelers have a relatively high chance of coming across these captivating hunters in the national parks and reserves of the continent.
Being unpredictable predators,there is no guarantee of a sighting. However, there are some good destinations for wildlife holidays worldwide where you are likely to spot a pack or maybe even two if you are lucky.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Thanks to the strict conservation efforts of the South African government there is today a viable population of African wild dogs remaining in the Kruger National Park,the premier nature reserve of the country.
A prolonged effort over decades commencing from the 90s has resulted in introduction of these beautiful species in other game parks and sanctuaries of South Africa and nearly tripling of their numbers during this period.
Kruger holds the biggest population of these intriguing animals and the best place to see them is in the southern region of Kruger, especially in game parks surrounding Thornybush.
Okavango Delta, Botswana
With its lush landscape and a vast diversity of animal and birdlife one should not give a second thought to explore this magical UNESCO World Heritage Site.If by any chance you are an African wild dog lover,the Okavango Delta holds a sizable population of these iconic animals.
The Okavango Delta is said to be the last stronghold of these species in Botswana. Going on a safari in areas around Moremi Game Reserve will give you ample opportunities to sneak upon a hunting pack.
There are other spots in Botswana as well where wild dog sightings are good,like the Khwai region and even up to Linyanti where these unpredictable predators have been sighted.The prime time to see wild dogs is during the dry winter months of May and June when water is scarce and the dogs establish their den sites here.
Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe
Setting of the famous David Attenborough’s epic wild dog documentary film “Dynasties”, Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe is renowned for being the best place not only to photograph the African wild dog,but also to track them on foot in the company of a top notch local naturalist.
When it comes to spotting wild dogs in Mana Pools there are two areas in particular where these animals can be seen.One is the area around the water pools and banks of the river Zambezi where the dogs make their den during the winter months between July and October.
The second good place to see wild dogs is the area close to Chitake Springs as this happens to be the lone source of water during the dry winter months. Packs of wild dogs, along with other predators,lie in wait here to ambush animals who come here to quench their thirst.
Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
There is no doubt that Mana Pools enjoys a better reputation because of the popular BBC Dynasty series,but the fact is that as far as wild dogs are concerned it holds twice the number than in Mana Pools with 30 packs rumoured to be there.
Additionally,the longest running painted dog conservation project in the world is being conducted here.The project is committed to protect and rehabilitate these animals by reintroducing these animals throughout the parks of Zimbabwe.
The landscape in Hwange is basically mopane woodlands and savannah grasslands which provide the ideal hunting ground for the wild dogs. Moreover, animals congregate on the available natural sources of water during the dry winter months between July and October,which gives ample opportunities to spot wild dogs during game drives, walking or even on horseback.
Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park, South Africa
The Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park is located in the stunning KwaZulu Natal area which happens to be the oldest protected game reserve region in South Africa, dating as far back to 1895 and the second largest of its kind after Kruger National Park.
Locality refered to as HIP, the park has paid a massive role in ensuring the survival of the black and white rhinos,with almost all rhino lineage across the country being traced to this spectacular park.
HIP is predominantly a Big 5 reserve,but somehow wild dogs have established a toe hold here and their numbers are thriving after being almost decimated in the early 80s. Multiple packs can now be seen all across the reserve.
South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
The Luangwa Valley,which forms a part of this famous park of Zambia is said to be exceptionally good in rich and varied wildlife said to be of a high density in the whole of Africa. Apart from predator sighting,the elusive african wild dog can be seen in good numbers in South Luangwa.
Those looking for a safari with an adventurous twist, the South Luangwa has no comparison. There is an estimated population of 350 numbers here, especially because of the boost given by the Zambian Carnivore Program in planning vaccination in local communities to prevent spreading of disease from the domestic dogs.
The Luangwa Valley is an extremely fertile area and holds prolific wildlife and is without doubt the best known national park in Zambia. The main safari season here is from April through to October with exact opening and closing dates depending on the location of the camps.
Enjoying a convenient location on the eastern escarpment of the Rift Valley, Laikipia is well known for its successfully run community conservancies that have protected the population of the reticulated giraffe and the black rhino.
The region here is semi-arid and is probably the only region in Kenya where wild dog packs have been seen on a regular basis because a number of packs find it convenient to make a den here. A canine distemper disease wiped out a majority of the wild dog population here in 2017, but thankfully numbers were gradually restored and wild dogs were spotted again in the Loisaba Conservancy towards the end of 2018.
Laikipia boasts of high density of wildlife, rivalling even the Masai Mara and is a beacon for ambitious conservation projects aimed at saving the wild dogs as well and is a fantastic destination for a wild dog safari in Kenya.