African wild dogs - a word from an expert

February 15, 2018




These amazing photographs were taken by Dominic Oldridge whilst staying at Lake Manze Camp in the Selous Game Reserve, southern Tanzania, in November 2017.




You can also increasingly see these beautiful animals from Mdonya Old River Camp in Ruaha National Park, also in southern Tanzania. The Selous and the Ruaha are among the remaining true wilderness areas in Africa.




We thought it would be nice to share with you a note written to us in 2006 by Roger Burrows – a premier fount of knowledge on the subject of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus):


"Wild dog behaviour is complex and only recently have we understood some key aspects relating to social rank, emigration, pack composition and changes in pack composition.


All the older text book and articles on wild dog were based on Serengeti in the 1970s when the population was declining due to poor reproductive success and so migration and new pack formation was rarely seen.


This led to generalisations such as 'females leave their natal packs but males remain in them' which we now known is only sometimes correct. Likewise it was thought that in a pack the oldest male was the alpha and that wild dog society was like that of a wolf – it is quite different - who could imagine an adult wolf allowing a pup to feed first?


Well we now know that old males - often the old alpha male - are very important members of the pack and, like the matriarch in elephant society, are a fount of knowledge - which places to avoid due to lions, where water and prey is to be found in the dry season and how to deal with hyaenas etc.


The behaviour of wild dogs is fascinating to watch and its evolution has given rise to an 'upside down' society with youth having priority both in feeding and in male breeding. The alpha female retains her status for life with her relatives but the male does not."



You can read many fascinating articles by Roger Burrows and other experts at:


Please reload

Please comment - we'd love to hear from you

Flo Montgomery and David Liebst  |  I  for Safari check out