Where are the Wild Dogs in Botswana?


Jan 28th, 2006, 07:31 AM
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Where are the Wild Dogs in Botswana?

Can anyone please tell me where the dogs might be in June?....I gathered later in the season they normally den near the Kwando Camps........I don't have many options planning this late. I'm working on these camps........... Lagoon, Savuti, Chitabe, Duma Tau, Selinda. Do you think these are ok?........My main interest is prediators. thank
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Jan 28th, 2006, 08:11 AM
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Don't forget that animal movements are very, very difficult to predict. They've denned at Kwando for a few years, but may decide to up sticks to Savuti next year for reasons known only to them. Previously Selinda had a very good wild dog population, but from more recent reports this seems to have fallen off a bit.

If you stay for 3-4 nights each at one Kwando camp (Lebala or Lagoon), one Selinda camp (Selinda or Zibalianja), and one Linyanti camp (Duma Tau, Savuti, or King's Pool), that's as close as you will get to a 'guarantee' of seeing them, as that way you'll cover all three Linyanti-area reserves which are known for dog sightings. Even then, it's just tilting the odds -- with wildlife there are no guarantees.

The camps you have listed do fit the criteria above and give you maximal dog coverage. Note that sightings have historically been better at Lebala than Lagoon so you may wish to alter your Kwando camp choice.

The reason many people prefer July is that denning means that the dogs are easier to locate -- they can't stray too far from the den whilst the mother and pups are inside. Denning in June is not unheard of but is not the norm. When they are not denning, they range far and wide, and are very difficult to locate. Can you do late July or August? That would give you a good chance of seeing the pups.

Chitabe does have good dog sightings, but they are not as regular as the sightings in the Linyanti/Kwando/Selinda area camps. The owners of the camp collaborated on the book 'Running Wild' with McNutt and his research group, who are still based in the area, so there is certainly enthusiasm for finding dogs at this camp.

If dogs are your main focus, I would highly recommend a private vehicle, as dog-watching involves a lot of tracking between sightings which may not be possible if your guide has to cater to a larger group with a variety of interests. You might find yourself feeling frustrated by the time spent tracking/viewing other species in a shared vehicle, and your vehicle-mates might feel the same way about your dog-chasing.

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Jan 28th, 2006, 08:28 AM
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very good advice from Julian.
It is correct that most people go in July/August. This is when the dogs are typically denning and the pups are out of the den. However the alpha female keeps the dogs in the burrow for +/- 6 weeks before bringing them out meaning that the denning already starts in late May early June. The rest of the pack has to feed the alpha female so they will also be "easy" to find in June but you will not see the puppies.
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Jan 28th, 2006, 09:48 AM
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Thankyou so much Julian and Michael for so much informative information.
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Jan 28th, 2006, 09:51 AM
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actually the wild dogs are no longer in Botswana, they are waiting for me in South Luangwa
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Jan 28th, 2006, 06:42 PM
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Yeah, Dennis, but they are only on that 24 hour day visa, so better hurry!
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Jan 28th, 2006, 07:41 PM
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that's all the time I need ddgatina!
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Jan 28th, 2006, 08:03 PM
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Great dog primer from Jasher.


You have been doing your dog homework! Those would be the camps for your best shot at dogs. And for other predators, which you indicated are an interest, as well as for a great overall safari.

The suggestion of 3-4 days at each camp is ideal, but staying that long at each camp may be impractical if you are including 5 camps. I have found that if you are visiting a camp with denning dogs and spending only 2 nights, you will be almost guaranteed a visit to the den at least once during those 2 days.
Not that I prefer only 2-night stays, but to maximize your dog chances, 2 nights at 5 places is a better bet than 3-4 nights at fewer places.

If the dogs are not denning, then more days might be needed to search for them and a private vehicle would become even more important. But again, if the dogs are denning, a private vehicle would not likely be needed to see them. For most guests wild dogs are a highlight and a good deal of time is spent observing/photographing them at the den. Just thinking of the additional cost of a private vehicle.

Of course, it can't hurt to let the camp manager know your wishes, such as seeing wild dogs, upon your arrival, especially if you are sharing a vehicle. You might be put in whatever vehicle is going to the den for several of your game drives. That is what happened to me at Chitabe.

I too would suggest July or early August as slightly preferable to June, especially to increase chances of seeing the puppies. But late June would be good. Having made that suggestion, I must qualify it by mentioning it is so hard to predict what the dogs will do. There are reports on this board of pups being seen as early as March in Botswana. Sometimes if the first litter is lost, the alpha female will produce another with pups not emerging from the den until later in September. On top of that, the dogs move their dens and the new one has to be located. The day before I arrived at Chitabe, the dogs had moved the den and were not found for one or two game drives. Our group located the new location--the guide did.

Here is one hint I learned from my most recent Botswana trip in Aug 05, in which I too had a goal of wild dogs: Wilderness is very accommodating with changing your itinerary once have started your safari. The only additional charge would be if your change results in more time at a more expensive camp than what you paid for or if it involves additional charter flights. Don't know about Kwando policy on changes.

Upon arrival in Chitabe when I realized there was a denning pack with 8 puppies about 15 minutes from camp, I changed my plans to stay there longer. I nixed my final destination of Duma Tau because reports from other guests were that the denning pack in Duma Tau had relocated and could not be found. Since Duma Tau and Chitabe were the same cost and I was cancelling, not adding a charter, I made the change at no charge. You could employ that technique once you receive recent information on dog whereabouts. In addition to guests, the Wilderness staff at Chitabe also provided me with information on the wild dogs at Duma Tau.

One philosophical note...That was the only trip I've ever made with a specific animal spotting goal in mind. It made for a less relaxed safari, prior to seeing the dogs, and I could have actually come away disappointed due to my expectations. I will not do that again.

A final thought. On this board Madikwe in South Africa has been mentioned as a place that comes as close to a guarantee on wild dogs as anywhere. Apparently it is not as wild or as well rounded in other game as some places. I've never visited personally.

Good luck with the dogs and your safari.
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Jan 28th, 2006, 08:28 PM
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Yes, I agree with Julian.......they can be anywhere from Lagoon to Lebala to selinda to Savute/duma tau/Kings pool on any given day. So it's just a matter of luck of the draw.

Also, even if you are staying at Lagoon....and there is a call from Lebala regarding a sighting, they will more than likely oblige driving you there, provided the dogs are not on the move and chances of them going amiss!
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Jan 29th, 2006, 04:58 AM
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We visited the den site at Kings Pool last July. It was in our experience vital to tell management of your interest, because they were limiting vsits to one vehicle per drive and the guide had to book it. While I have no problem with that policy, it was like a lot of things at Wilderness (who I do like the best in Botswana) not overtly stated, it seems you always have to ask and make your requirements known. I imagine that had no one in our vehicle expressed an interest then we would not have visited the site, leaving it open for guests who expressly stated a preference.
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Jan 29th, 2006, 06:08 AM
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Actually, I have borrowed them briefly and the wild dogs are now in the Lake Manyara/Tarangire area, but after my visit to this area concludes on March 01st, I do have them on a chartered flight back to South Luangwa, so no worries!
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Jan 29th, 2006, 09:06 AM
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You might have already been to this post in your research. It was this very thread that lead me to the Fodor's Travel Forum in the first place when I was doing dog research just like you.

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