If I were a dog... The African Wild Dog
African Wild Dogs in the Botswana Okavango Delta are a rare and beautiful sight, tracking them takes patience and expertise to find and follow the pack. Their incredibly alert heart shaped faces take seconds to capture your heart and live with you forever.
Our trip to Kwando's Lebala Camp, organised by UK specialists Aardvark Safaris, is famed for its game viewing and has become a firm favourite for global filmmakers and wildlife photographers hungry to see the assortment of species day and night but none more so than the treasured African hunting dog. Our guide and tracker knew a pack was in the area and it took several hours to catch up with them, when we did we were blessed to see this highly social in action, hunting, playing and teaching their young.
As described by National Geographic these long-legged canines have only four toes per foot, unlike other dogs, which have five toes on their forefeet. The dog's Latin name means “painted wolf,” referring to the animal's irregular, mottled coat, which features patches of red, black, brown, white, and yellow fur. Each animal has its own unique coat pattern, and all have big, rounded ears.
African wild dogs live in packs that are usually dominated by a monogamous breeding pair. The female has a litter of 2 to 20 pups, which are cared for by the entire pack. These dogs are very social, and packs have been known to share food and to assist weak or ill members. Social interactions are common, and the dogs communicate by touch, actions, and vocalizations.
African wild dogs hunt in formidable, cooperative packs of 6 to 20 (or more) animals. Larger packs were more common before the dogs became endangered. Packs hunt antelopes and will also tackle much larger prey, such as wildebeests, particularly if their quarry is ill or injured. The dogs supplement their diet with rodents and birds. As human settlements expand, the dogs have sometimes developed a taste for livestock, though significant damage is rare. Unfortunately, they are often hunted and killed by farmers who fear for their domestic animals.
If African wild dogs are going to be saved, we need to find ways to coexist with them, minimise conflict with humans, and prevent disease transmission from domesticated dogs.
Horace Sport will continue to support charities that thrive to educate farmers and poachers and work with communities to monitor wild dog movements and prevent potential conflict with humans to ensure the survival of this endangered species.