Wild Dog Safari - Ultimate Wildlife Adventures

African Wild Dog (Lycaon Pictus)


  • IUCN Conservation Status: Endangered
  • Population Trend: Decreasing


  • Lifespan: 10-12 years
  • Dimensions: 100 cm (length)
  • Weight: 25-30 kg
  • Activity: Diurnal

African Wild Dog Safari Holidays

Locating a family of African wild dogs takes you deep into their world. Witness them chatter in high-tone squeaks and play nonchalantly. All is peaceful until their ears prick up and the first dog sneezes, followed by the next dog, and the next. The votes have been cast. It’s time to hunt. Hold tight as your guide tries to keep up with the 70 km/h pace set by the hunting dogs. 

The African wild dog, not as historically iconic as some of its contemporaries, has shot to fame in recent decades through wildlife documentaries highlighting the species’ fight for survival. Its current appeal is as much in its ‘last chance to see’ status as it is in its playful character, unique family dynamics and exciting and well-executed hunting style.

It is the only member of its genus lycaon pictus. It is the largest candid and second rarest carnivore in Africa. It has extremely strong social bonds, much more so than lion prides and hyena clans. Therefore you are unlikely to witness a solitary dog. They are prolific hunters with a success rate of 70% to 90%. This is in favourable comparison to the 25% to 30% kill rate of both lions and hyenas. Hunts are characterised by co-operation and endurance. Each member has a specific role within the team and the plan is to chase prey until exhaustion. Hunts can last anywhere between 10 and 60 minutes and typically last over a distance of 2 kilometres. As a safari guest it is always beneficial to observe a hunt in a reserve that allows off-road driving so your driver is able to follow the dogs, albeit at a safe distance as not to disturb them.

The dogs have a preference for daylight activity and hunting. This behaviour increases your chances of interacting with them. However, you should perceive any wild dog sighting as a privilege rather than a given. They have a low population density throughout their range. Predation by lions and competition from spotted hyenas keep their levels below what their prey base could support. A fine example of this is their relatively impressive numbers in Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve. It is home to approximately 800 dogs, the largest number in Africa. However, it is the size of the country of Switzerland. Their preference to be constantly on the move over a large range can also make pinning them down rather difficult.

With any wildlife holiday the key is to be in the right place at the right time and we can help you gain the best possible chance of seeing these elusive dogs. We are able to significantly increase your chances by building an itinerary that includes renowned wild dog strongholds and using guides who specialise in tracking the dogs. Travelling in the denning season between June and September, the exact timings being reserve specific, will increase your chances significantly as the dogs are not moving over large areas of land. As always it does require luck but being in the right reserve with an excellent guide in denning season dramatically increases your chances.

There are several areas we recommend that offer you a great chance of success. Ruaha National Park and the Selous in southern Tanzania have significant dog populations with predictable denning locations over recent years. The Laikipia region in Kenya and Madikwe Game Reserve and Sabi Sands Game Reserve in South Africa are heavily managed private reserves, therefore the dogs locations are regularly monitored. This makes tracking and locating easier. Large flagship wildlife reserves including Kruger National Park in South Africa, Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park and South Luangwa National Park of Zambia are all relatively reliable locations. Mana Pools National Park is a firm favourite of ours where you can get out into the bush on foot and locate the dogs with a wild dog specialist. As always, the huge continuous ecosystem of northern Botswana offers you an exceptional chance, in particular head to the Okavango Delta private concessions, or Moremi Game Reserve, Linyanti, Kwando, Selinda and Savuti Reserves.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the African wild dog as endangered with populations decreasing throughout its range. Once widespread over the continent, numbering 300,000 a century ago, there remains only 6,600 dogs left in the wild. The main threat to the survival of the species is habitat fragmentation. Their need for a wide range often causes them to leave the safety of designated protected reserves. This puts them into direct contact with people and domestic animals causing them to be at risk of human-wildlife conflict and transmission of infectious diseases such as canine distemper.

By electing to visit these vibrant dogs with Ultimate Wildlife Adventures you are contributing to their protection and chances of future survival, as well as signing up for an experience of a lifetime.

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African Wild Dog Itineraries

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