Tanzania: Ruaha NP – African Wild Dogs

Ruaha is famous for its lion prides, the biggest in Tanzania – but we didn’t see a single lion. What we did get very lucky to see was a pack of 19 African wild dogs, one of the rarest and most endangered animals in the world! The wild dogs have been known to live in 39 African countries, but the habitat destruction and diseases from domestic animals have almost annihilated the population in the wild, only 13 countries claim to still have them (reality is more likely 4). It’s estimated that there are only about 6000 adults remaining on the whole continent (and about a quarter of that of juveniles, but the mortality is very high). African wild dogs (also called painted dogs) are highly social animals and very organized. They hunt in packs, taking well-orchestrated turns to chase their pray to exhaustion, killing it and then feeding the young dogs and pups first. Lions and hyenas are their enemies – lions kills them out of competition, while hyenas steal their kills. The pack we saw was large – 19 individuals, but quite distant in the dry river bed, probably resting after a kill. An incredible sighting and only the second time in my life seeing the African wild dogs!