Where to see…. Wild dogs

Posted on March 31st, 2020 by Overland Africa

Where to see…. Wild dogs

A pack of wild dogs (also known as painted wolves or painted hunting dogs) is one of the most thrilling sights to see on safari. Extremely rare but with a growing population, these canids show all the characteristics we think of in predators: keen intelligence, fine co-operation, excellent hearing, great strength, great vision and sheer speed. The excitement when a guide announces that wild dogs have been spotted in the vicinity is palpable!

What to Expect if You Spot Them – On the Hunt

There is nothing to beat watching wild dogs on a hunt. Individual dogs communicate by ‘sneezing’, indicating whether they are hungry, and whether they should go on a hunt. Once an agreement is reached, the pack will silently approach their prey like a Thomson’s gazelle, a warthog, a zebra or a wildebeest, carefully surrounding it to block off escape route. When the animal realises that it is being stalked, the chase begins! And what a chase it is: wild dogs can reportedly reach speeds of nearly 70 kilometres / 44 miles an hour for up to sixty minutes at a time.

In strict hierarchy, pups younger than a year eat first. They have expended huge energy on the hunt and are the most vulnerable to being killed so must keep their strength up. Once they’ve finished eating, the pack will move on immediately.

Of all predators, wild dogs are easiest to see on the chase because – like cheetahs – they hunt during the day. Pack members fan out and it’s hard to focus on all of them at the same time. Just sit and enjoy having the privilege of seeing these incredible animals putting their astounding qualities to the test. Researchers suggest that at least eighty percent of chases end in a kill – the highest of all predators.

What to Expect if You Spot Them – Resting

If you watch a pack resting, you will notice how similar they are to domestic litters and dogs. Puppies will play with sticks, practicing their hunting skills. The matriarch and patriarch (unusually, each pack has a dominant male and a dominant female) will keep an eye out and lead the pack in hunting. Pack members are also known to sleep nestled together for safety and warmth. The youngsters are very curious and have been known to approach game-drive vehicles, sniffing every inch of the tyres and body. All animals in Africa will rest during the hottest parts of the day – look out under shrubs and trees for the best chance of seeing a pack as their mottled coats camouflage them extremely well. Their gold, white and black fur melds perfectly with dappled sunlight and you need sharp eyes to spot them.

The Best Places to See Them, Where to see…. Wild dogs

Although wild dogs are found across Africa, with different sub-species in different regions, the highest known population numbers are currently in Botswana. But there are plenty of other top safari destinations where wild dogs are making a resurgence and sightings are good – let’s check them out:

Moremi Game Reserve and Khwai

Covering a massive strip of the central and eastern Okavango Delta, Moremi is a classic collection of wetland, fertile floodplains, open grassland and riverine forest. The Khwai Concession is run by the local community and borders the Khwai River and the north-east of Moremi. Wild dogs are more likely to be found in ‘drier’ camps rather than those that are almost permanently surrounded by water and on Chief’s Island. They’re fairly nervous about water, instinctively fearing crocodiles that may be lurking just under the surface of the Okavango’s water.

South Africa – Greater Kruger

The Greater Kruger area takes in not only the Kruger National Park but also surrounding private reserves like the Sabi Sands, Timbavati, MalaMala and Manyeleti. There are regular sightings of packs throughout the region, which lies to the north east of the country.

Madikwe and Pilanesberg
Madikwe Private Game Reserve was a frontrunner in the successful re-introduction of wild dogs to reclaimed farmland. The packs have been under threat from disease, but sightings are still possible. Pilanesberg, a public national park on the border of the Sun City resort, has a surprisingly good record of wild dogs being spotted.

Zimbabwe – Mana Pools
Although Zimbabwe’s wildlife area is Hwange National Park, Mana Pools has been known to see plenty of wild do. This is in fact where the BBC’s Dynasties wildlife programme was filmed, which features memorable interactions like elephants charging wild dogs that get too close.

Tanzania – Selous
One of the world’s biggest conservation areas, Selous Game Reserve offers vast areas of land for a limited number of travellers to explore. Because it is so big, wildlife has plenty of space to move around.

Southern Serengeti
Predators thrive in the Southern Serengeti because this is where hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, gazelle and zebra drop their babies at the beginning every year to benefit from the lush grazing and plentiful water. Lions take over the savannah, but wild dogs are also known to make the most of easy pickings here.

Much more arid and hilly than the Masai Mara, Laikipia and Samburu are two lesser-visited areas of Kenya but still offer incredible game viewing. You may be lucky enough to spot wild dogs but also look out for the Samburu Special 5, endemic species found only here (reticulated giraffe, beisa oryx, Somali ostrich, long-necked gerenuk and Grevy’s zebra).

Why are Wild Dogs so Rare?

There are many reasons, including those happening to all wildlife across the world such as habitat loss and vulnerability to diseases, specifically rabies and canine distemper. Lions are ruthless in destroying any wild dog puppies they come across and have been known to kill all the pups in a den. Today there is thankfully a massive conservation drive to save the remaining wild dogs and packs are slowly resurging.

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The 6 Best Places to See Lions in Africa:

Posted on March 30th, 2020 by Overland Africa

Best Places to See Lions in Africa:

Best Places to See Lions: Lions are the undeniable kings of the African bush and one of the most sought-after sightings on a safari. Thanks to their reassuringly feline name Panthera leo we know we are technically dealing with ‘cats’ but lions are startlingly huge, almost bear-sized. Their muscular, barrel-chested bodies and jutting chins let everyone know who the boss is – and it’s not the 2-legged creatures wearing sunglasses!

Lions are Africa’s top predators and prey on big animals such as zebra, buffalo, giraffe, hippo and even young elephants. If you catch lionesses on the hunt, it’s heart-in-mouth stuff and their entourage of hyenas, jackals and vultures always makes a fascinating sideshow. The same colour as the savannah they live on, lions are as much part of the African landscape as its flat-topped acacia trees and red, crumbly earth. Regal not only in stature, hearing their booming roars ring out at dusk as they gather to hunt is a never-to-be-forgotten experience. Their calls are also a spine-tingling reminder that the wilderness still belongs to them.

Best Places to See Lions:

1) South Africa – Best For: Diversity of LionsKruger National Park

Home to most of the country’s wild lions, the Kruger National Park has always been South Africa’s premier destination for a lion safari. But Kruger is the size of Wales, and the distribution of its 2 000 lions is at the mercy of geography and climate. Areas of richer, grassier soils and higher rainfall support more animals to prey on, and so lion densities there are higher. Hot and dry northern Kruger is home to around five to six lions per 100km² (39 square miles), but the wetter and greener southern Kruger has more than twice that number.

2) Namibia – Best For: Desert-adapted Lions

The lions of northern Namibia are some of the most captivating on Earth, surviving in an unyielding landscape where vegetation and prey are few and far between. The lions that roam the Namib Desert have adapted amazingly to this barren environment and are known as ‘desert-adapted’ or ‘desert lions.’

Okavango Delta

Everyone knows that cats don’t like water, but the lions of Delta Plains in the northern Okavango Delta have learnt to prosper in it for good reason: nutritious grasses and permanent water make the area perfect habitat for buffalo. And lions just love buffalo. Thanks to the constant workout they get running through shallow water and wrestling with enraged buffaloes, the lions here are around 15 percent larger than normal. They’ve also adapted to hunting during the day (usually prides hunt at night and sleep during the day) when the buffalo herds are grazing on the exposed floodplains, which translates into epic game viewing for safari travellers.


Chobe National Park’s Savuti region is the famous stage upon which lion prides regularly clash with hyena clans for food and territory. This remote area is also known for its well-documented, powerful lions that take down Africa’s biggest mammals like buffalo, giraffe and even elephants. One of the best places in Africa to witness the most dramatic predator action, Savuti will appeal to all wildlife enthusiast.

4) Zambia – Best For: Tracking Lions on Walking Safaris

South Luangwa National Park 

Zambia’s huge reserves are home to a significant proportion of Africa’s lions and most of them live in the Luangwa Valley, a wildlife haven and home to the South Luangwa National Park. It was here that walking safaris were founded. Animals crowd the banks and oxbow lakes, becoming easy targets for Luangwa’s lions.

5) Tanzania – Best For: Lions Hunting during the Wildebeest Migration

Ruaha National Park

Chances are that you’ll have lion sightings completely to yourself at Ruaha. Hidden away in southern Tanzania, Ruaha National Park sees fewer than 6 000 visitors a year – or about 16 a day – which makes it one of Africa’s hidden treasures. Its wildly beautiful scenery and impressive biodiversity is home to 10% of the world’s remaining lion population – In fact, it’s second only to the Serengeti in terms of absolute numbers.

Serengeti National Park

Look at it from a lion’s perspective: if your survival depends on the availability of suitable food, how does a million wildebeest sound? Joined by tens of thousands of zebra and gazelle, that’s how many wildebeest grunt and gallop their way around the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, a circular migration so magnificent it spans two countries and takes most of the year to complete. The Grumeti Game Reserve in the west and the central Seronera region are some of the best spots in the Serengeti National Park to see lions.

Ngorongoro Crater

If you’re looking for some of the easiest and most rewarding game viewing in East Africa, then head down onto the floor of the world’s largest inactive volcanic caldera. Home to about 30 000 animals – including powerful lions – the Ngorongoro Crater delivers an incredible Big 5 safari experience in an extraordinary setting.

6) Kenya – Best For: Abundant Lion Sightings

Masai Mara National Reserve

In Kenya’s Masai Mara, the lions are so prolific that they once had their own BBC nature documentary series, Big Cat Diary. From about July every year, two million wildebeest cross the Mara River into the Masai Mara National Reserve to feast on fresh and succulent grass – under the watchful eyes of hungry lions. A bonus of the Mara’s flat, wide and open plains is that cheetah are perfectly adapted to it and this a great place to watch these lightning-quick cats chase down their prey.

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