A morning encounter with wild dogs

It’s 5.30am and I’ve had my shower, coffee and fruit muffin, and I’m jumping aboard the 4×4, armed with my camera and binoculars. It’s my first morning game drive in the private Kwando concession in Northern Botswana…

African wild dogs are elusive creatures.

As we leave camp we are greeted by the call of the African fish eagle – or ‘bush music’, as it’s known. The tracker, perched on a special seat built onto the front of the vehicle, points out a day-old impala, a family of chakma baboons and wallowing warthogs, all in the first 15 mins. His eyes, along with the guide, are scouring the bush and trees for signs of life and movement. Added to that, they constantly scan the ground for tracks and spoor, pointing out anything interesting.

The vehicle stops suddenly and while the floor is being scrutinised, the tracker jumps down from his ‘perch’ and the guide gets out. They follow the ‘signs’ on the floor together, pointing out possibilities and conversing deeply. Then it’s back to the vehicle and they announce they’ve picked up wild dog tracks and ask if we want to try our luck and follow them…???? Um YES PLEASE!

African wild dogs are elusive creatures. Endangered and beautiful, they are also known as ‘painted wolves’, and if you get a chance to see them in the wild, grab it!

It’s a matter of minute before we find the pack – and they are on the hunt.

It’s a matter of minutes before we find the pack – and they are on the hunt. There are only four on the hunt, and they spot a small herd of impala in the distance and stop. They seem to converse for a few seconds before flattening their ears and forming a single file, a stalking tactic. They are able to get pretty close, as they resemble another antelope, and then they bolt!

The impala panic and run away in various directions. We race after them, hanging on as the 4×4 bumps through the bush in a desperate attempt to find them. After reading more ‘bush signs’, a couple of minutes later we find three of the wild dogs tucking into two baby impalas, devouring every part. The fourth wild dog is a short distance away eating a third baby impala. It’s a brutal reminder that safari can be about nature very much in the raw; of course, there is sorrow for the tiny impala, but this is the natural order of things in the bush.

From start to finish the exhilarating experience was around 20 minutes. It’s only 6am and we leave the wild dogs, excited about what else the Kwando concession has in store for us! The beauty of Kwando is that you can go on day and night drives, walking safaris, boat trips and canoe and mokoro safaris – so we have much to look forward to!


We love Botswana – in fact we love and know it so well we have our own specialist division that is dedicated to this stunning country. To learn more about this wonderful place, and to discuss your perfect safari, contact our expert Botswana Specialists team.

If you would like your own encounter with wild dogs in Kwando, our Falling for Wild Dogs trip could be perfect for you – and it also takes in the private Kwara reserve in the Okavango Delta and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

Related Articles

The Tribes blog brings you regular articles written by our specialists, travellers or partners and conservationists in our destinations. We have a big collection of articles now, so have a mooch to find some interesting short reads.

Explore more
Explore more