African wild dog pups in Selous

December 8, 2017


 The Selous is a very good area for viewing wild dogs - it holds the largest collection of them in Africa. They can also be seen in the Ruaha - though sightings are less frequent there - and on the Serengeti, where for various reasons the dogs disappeared completely for some years but were recently re-introduced.If you are interested in visiting southern Tanzania, please let us know at and we will be happy to give advice on the best time to travel and where to go.
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Some years ago I was lucky enough to get a really good sighting of African wild dogs growing up in the Selous Game Reserve in southern Tanzania. I was staying at Lake Manze camp and the guides had become aware of a den in a korongo or dried river bed near Lake Nzerakera.



It is not often that one gets this privilege, the dogs being expert at concealing their dens. But if you do spot the location then you can count on regular sightings of the brood when they are old enough to come out of the burrow.



In this case there were 5 adults in the pack, and initially 9 puppies - though by the time I saw them there were just 7 pups remaining. The adults guarded the young carefully, though some of them disappeared regularly to hunt and feed, returning to regurgitate food for the pups.



When the hunters returned, there was an almighty meeting and greeting, a snickering and yelping - an appealing part of wild dog behaviour. 

Every dog has a unique coat pattern, a mixture of tans and gold, white and black - which is why they are  named Lycaon pictus - "painted wolves".


Every pack has an alpha male and an alpha female, who are the parents of the litter. In this case, there was a second female aunt who was very protective of the pups, and would suckle them if the alpha female was not present.


These animals are very intelligent and are good communicators; they have a particularly keen sense of sight, hearing and smell, which contributes to their extremely high success rate when hunting - about 80% as compared to 30% with lions, for example.



Though there is a strict hierarchy in the pack, when young are born, they are given priority even over the alpha pair, when feeding.



As soon as the pups are grown enough, the pack moves on - they are naturally nomadic and can travel up to 50km a day, ranging over territories up to 1500 sq kms in size. The only time they stay still in one area is while denning.


Their biggest threat is from lions and of course man.


My daughter Mich Greenfield-Liebst took these photos and Jan Corlett and Roger Burrows - renowned wild dog experts - took the film below.




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