Game Warden

What camps in what countries for wild dogs.

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And best times of the year.

Please lets make just a list of the camps, parks/reserves and countries where one can confidently expect to see wild dogs on Safari.

(Always remembering nothing is 100% guaranteed).

Please do feel free to include website of said camps and recommended guides there.

 

Camps/lodges and reserves, operators etc are also welcome to post details of their wild dog sightings and action in this topic.

Matt

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Posted (edited)

The dogs are so mobile that, whilst one can certainly pick a better area to see them, there is little scope in differentiating amongst different camps in such area.

 

- Mana Pools National Park (Zimbabwe).

 

All options are good: mobile camps in the Zambezi floodplain, (also at Chitake Springs, but a tad less reliable). Vundu and Little Vundu, Goliath Safaris, Chikwenya.

 

- Selous Game Reserve (Tanzania)

 

Once again, due to dogs mobility, difficult to pick one place over another. Possibly a mobile walking safari run by Sand Rivers would offer a better option since it covers a bit of ground. Otherwise Sand Rivers, Beho Beho, Lake Manze Tented Camp, Selous Safari Camp should provide even chances.

 

- Laikipia Plateau (Kenya)

 

Laikipia Wilderness Camp. Then Sosian Ranch.

 

- Okavango Delta (Botswana)

 

I would leave this to the Botswana frequent travellers for more details. i would say Chitabe, Kwara concession, Vumbura concesssion, Also Khwai River area and the Mopane Tongue are good ( both locations are accessed through mobile camps or a few lodges)

 

- Greater Linyanti (Botswana)

 

Lagoon (Kwando), Duma Tau and Savuti (WS)

 

Wild Dogs are obviously found in other places too, but with less reliability. amongst them, Liuwa Plain, South Luangwa (mostly green season) and North Luangwa (dry season) in Zambia, Ruaha, Katavi an certain parts of Loliondo in Tanzania, Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Edited by Paolo
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I would add, at Lagoon - during denning months is as close to a guarantee in my experience. The only year the dogs did not den was 2006, when a new Lagoon pack was formed in 2005. The original Lagoon pack was decimated by Lions in winter 2005.

 

To add to Paolo's list from the Greater Linyanti -

 

Selinda, Lebala.

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Posted (edited)

Experience and Pipeline

 

1.) Mana Pools , Zimbabwe (visited in August 2012)

- As Paolo said, anywhere on the floodplains.We stayed at Vundu but number of options. I have just provided links of what I/we used

 

http://www.bushlifes...=13&Itemid=19 (Bushlife Safaris for Vundu)

 

http://www.bushlifes...id=14&Itemid=40 (Bushlife Safaris Newsletter on Mana dogs update end of the year. Next update expect around March/April. Nick Murray who owns Bushlife safaris is doing an MSc on wild dogs behaviour and range along with the researchers from Hwange.

 

http://natureways.co.../camp-chitake ( our mobile camp provider at Nyamatusi wilderness area in Mana and at Chitake. Nyamatusi wilderness area is where Chikwenya Lodge is also situated in a private concession)

 

-Chikwenya concession- excellent time with dogs and the concession manager said, the dogs were seen everyday through the chikwenya floodplains and here they flush out Nyala and hunt them.

 

 

2.) Chitabe- Chitabe concession, Okavango, Botswana - Dogs on 3 game drives- playing in water, chasing, resting, a kill (visited in December 2011)

 

http://www.wildernes...p/introduction/

 

http://www.wildernes...a/introduction/

 

http://www.andbeyond..._beyond_sandibe

 

 

3.) Little Vumbura-Vumbura Concession, Okavango, Botswana -The 'golden pack'. I saw the breakaway pack of 6 dogs but the bigger pack is 26-27+. (visited in December 2011)

 

http://www.wildernes...a/introduction/

 

http://www.wildernes...s/introduction/

 

 

4.) A brief sighting of 5 dogs in Hwange. (August 2012)

 

I think there are 2-3 packs here but because of the size of the park sightings are not as reliable as Mana. Also there are more than double the number of dogs in Mana than Hwange where the researchers put the number at around 50 (Mana 120+ in 2012).

Of all the places we have heard dogs news from, Hwange seems to be one place where they are not doing as well- again I might be wrong but possibly due to proximity to human settlements, poaching, snaring etc.

I stayed at Somalisa camp, but the sighting was much closer to the Main Camp on my way out but they have been seen everywhere and also in the much lesser known areas of Sinametela in Hwange.

 

Next 2 year's pipeline includes

 

1.) Back to Mana combining floodplains and Chikwenya for maximising chances with dog using mobile camp (Natureways) and Chikwenya Lodge. Also included Kanga camp where dogs have been sighted on a very regular basis near the waterhole in the camp. Sept-Oct 2013

 

http://www.chikwenya...es/?page_id=112

 

http://www.africanbu...-in-mana-pools/

 

 

2.) Laikipia - Steve Carey's camp for the tracking etc they do. Laikipia Wilderness Camp. Hopefully October 2014

 

http://laikipiawilde...-steve-and.html

 

 

3.) Gonarezhou- I have been strictly told to not have any expectations of wild dog sightings here for my trip next year ( 5 nights) but SVC have reported 7-9 packs that travel such wide range from Mozambique through the length and breadth of Gonarezhou. October 2013

 

On seasons - In Mana and Okavango they den usually in June-early July though as has been seen in some years ( and this year in Chitabe), sometimes they den again closer to year end when have lost the alpha female. In Laikipia possibly in October. In Southern Serengeti it is reported usually in the period Jan-March.

 

On dens- while it is possible to walk and come very close to them in Mana, I believe from what I have heard, that the best den experience is possibly at Lagoon. In Mana the dogs are not as habituated when there are people closer to the densite and the foliage makes visibility difficult plus you always want to leave if you perceive the dogs are uncomfortable.

 

Wild Dog itineraries - we did a 12 day trip to Mana this year focussing on dogs and for next year, The Wild Source has an August itinerary with 3 nights in Lagoon, 3 nights in Kanga and 3 nights in Mana Floodplains as a focussed wild dog itinerary with a 2 day option to book Selinda at the start. Next year I will spend 12 -15 days focussing on dogs again, apart from general game and lions in Mana. Have thought about combining Linyanti and Mana but think still prefer focussing on one country at a time.

 

Wishlist - Lagoon and Kwara.

Edited by Anita
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PS: Updates on my facebook by tracker at Lagoon, Aaron makoko - apparently a 3rd pack seen regularly in the Kwando concession (Northern Lagoon area) - comes into the Lagoon zone from the Upper Kwando when the Lagoon pack either goes South or into the woodlands.

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From my experience-

Northern Botswana in general. I think there's a decent chance almost anywhere- on one mobile trip I saw dogs in Chobe, Savute and Khwai and I've also seen them in Moremi. However, I think the Linyanti area has to be the best bet and I agree with MAC that Lagoon at denning time has to be as close to guaranteed as you'll get. But there's a good chance at any of the Linyanti camps. Chitabe and Vumbura seem to also have good sightings although I haven't yet been.

 

Selous. No camp in particular.

 

The other two dog hotspots where I'm planning trips are Laikipia- booked for next June for a week at Laikipia Wilderness Camp (already mentioned above) and Mana Pools- that will be 2014, somewhere between late Aug and October. Don't really know yet where I'll be going but probably Goliath or Vundu, maybe Kanga, maybe a mobile at Chitake springs.

 

I think a lot of people have got the impression that denning time is always the best time to go but I think this is only true in some areas. Particularly in the Linyanti and the camps which consistently have dens nearby (notably Lagoon). In other areas, I think the opposite is true. In Ruaha, for example, dog sightings in the dry season are poor to non existent- I think the dogs den away from the central area of the park- probably to keep clear of lions when the puppies are young and vulnerable. In Ruaha, apparently dog sightings are far better in the green season. There seems to be a similar pattern in South Luangwa. Both these parks are centred around rivers, where game congregates in the dry season and lion activity is high.

 

South Luangwa- as above, sightings seem to be better in the green or very early (pre denning) or late (once puppies are mobile) in the dry. In the Nsefu sector Tafika seem to report good sightings towards the end of the season (October) particularly out at the salt pan area which is way away from the river. The Kaingo/Lion Camp side of the river is a pretty dog free zone- too many lions around. Out towards Luwi/Nsolo has been good in previous years (I think they have had a den out there) but I was there this year and they've not seen so much of the dogs this year but have had an increase in lion sightings. The southern and central areas of the park seem to get more dog sightings. However, I've still never seen a dog in South Luangwa! :(

 

In South Africa I've heard Madikwe is good. However, I think the KZN parks are ones to watch. This from Wildlife-ACT's website "At last count Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park was boasting 75 Wild Dogs, Mkhuze Game Reserve 9, Tembe Elephant Park 9, Thanda Game Reserve 14 and Zimanga Game Reserve 13." The numbers don't sound huge but some of these are small parks and fenced. I've seen dogs in Kruger once (more of a glimpse, really) but I don't know that area well enough to say where the best places might be.

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Do you want to see them, or do you want to seem them well?

 

As said, South Luangwa is good in early season pre-denning (which starts May-June) and when pups are mobile (October onwards).

 

Kafue has a lot of dogs, but few roads, so it's hit or miss.

 

Liuwa: At times not very reliable, but if you see them you can't get it any better!

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Anita,

 

What a great post of yours! So full of details...My one was rather sloppy by comparison.

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Anita,

 

What a great post of yours! So full of details...My one was rather sloppy by comparison.

 

Just sucking upto the boss :) I think yours was very well written. I guess I get over excited when someone says wild dogs :D

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Chatabe and Vumbura held the most opportunities for living with the dogs for a couple of days. I'm sure if you went to VP or LV and just wanted to see the dogs, a guide would be most happy to spend quality time with them. At Vumbura there were at least 25-26 at one sighting;

 

including these three:

 

gallery_5364_753_27983.jpg

 

If I could have had one or two more days at VP I would have cheerfully stayed on....the dogs were everywhere and as I leave Chitabe, go on to DT and finally end at VP in my on going trip report, I will definitely have more pics...though Greenlantern has told me my pics are not the "good" ones (hahah) I guess HIS are--...well I told him to do his own report. He was there too!

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Interesting that Vumbura now appears to have two packs. One, the Golden Pack, moved in from Kwara last year. For several years, Vumbura was not good for dogs. But several years before that, dogs were resident. Ebb and flow...

 

I agree with Hari... Kwando Lagoon is as close to a guarantee as one can get.

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Posted (edited)

All great feedback here.

 

In terms of different packs, I think a safari through Mana Pools (from west to east to Chitake) is the one that might probably deliver the greatest number in Africa today (as Anita mentions, there are now over 120 dogs - not the largest population, but possibly the densest).

Edited by Paolo
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Posted (edited)

Never was unlucky with Kwando Lagoon.

1 pack with 24 dogs when we´ve been there in November.

Spencer wrote me, that a second pack arrived shortly after we left.

Now if it´s true what Aaron said, it´s 3 packs then it gets quiet busy there ;)

Edited by Wild Dogger
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Posted (edited)

Never was unlucky with Kwando Lagoon.

1 pack with 24 dogs when we´ve been there in November.

Spencer wrote me, that a second pack arrived shortly after we left.

Now if it´s true what Aaron said, it´s 3 packs then it gets quiet busy there ;)

 

Yay, better chances for me when I'm at Lagoon in February. Graceland, you know I love that photo of your 3 dogs! But yes, tell GreenLantern to write his own report as well! He reminds me of my 13-year-old who insisted that every good photo amongst ours from our S. Africa trip was one she took.

 

You guys are really not fair - you make me want to go everywhere!

Edited by SafariChick
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Kruger Park has appr. 130 dogs, spread over 19 different packs and pretty much all of them live in the southern and the mid section of the reserve

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Kruger Park has appr. 130 dogs, spread over 19 different packs and pretty much all of them live in the southern and the mid section of the reserve

 

How big is thus the area they roam?

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Posted (edited)

Madikwe in South Africa is a good place to find wild dogs and to see their hunting strategy of driving the game into the parks fence (interesting but leaving a feeling that the dogs have an unfair advantage vis a vis the game). We had a good view of a pack hunting there.

 

But our best experience was near Ubuntu Tented Camp, a mobile camp that is set up in the southern plains of the Serengeti during the first part of the year. There we saw the most exciting wildebeest hunt, when a pack of about 20 dogs killed 3 wildebeest in one go. The coreography of the hunt was amazing when the pack started to run and the wildebeest split to try to confound them. Very exciting. From what I understood that pack has been around for sometime now and take full advantage of the great migration in the beginning of the year.

 

Here are the Ubuntu dogs resting:

 

gallery_5808_577_18451.jpg

 

one hour later...

 

gallery_5808_577_246955.jpg

Edited by safaribr
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Ubuntu was on my itinerary last year for Tz; may have to rethink that again!

 

And, as Safarichick says- ya'll just make us want to go and go and go...Might as well just set up shop in Africa.

 

Thank goodness GreenLantern is as obsessed...thanks to me! ;) I snuck in 3 trips between his flyfishing and he LOVED it.

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Posted (edited)

Few other thoughts I had- might not be much but throwing in here might help GW to compile his WD resource.

 

- Selous apparently has close to 1200-1300 dogs in a 5.6 million hectare area. Compare this with 120-130 dogs in the Greater Kruger Area ( 2.4 million hectares) or 120+ dogs in Mana Pools+Sapi area (340,000 hectares) and am surprised that Selous sightings are not as widely reported. Does it have to do with most of the reserve not being open for photo tourism + still very low numbers of tourist compared to Kruger. But I also think its partly because we dont get as steady a news from Selous as we do from Mana or Botswana. The Selous density is very similar to Mana

 

-The population in Greater Kruger has steadily declined from 450 in 1995 to 195 in 2009 to current cited 120-130 and even if you half the area where they are mostly found, the density is still low. I am not sure if walking safaris etc can be taken anywhere in Greater Kruger with the same ease and flexibility as Mana and unlike Botswana, one cannot go hunting with the dogs with as much flexibility ( that should be true for Northern Botswana private concessions versus any other place as even in Mana if the dogs set off on a mission in the direction of the woodlands, you will definitely not be able to keep up on foot). However it seems the population, the density and the population trend all favour Linyanti and Mana Pools as 2 possible destinations, albeit with different experiences with dogs.

 

-On denning season being the best time for seeing dogs, my personal 2 p is it should always be the best time to see dogs as dogs are less mobile, they hunt more often in a day and there is some unique behaviour. However in some places, you just cant access the dens as they are so deep in the woodlands or outside most touristy areas. But that actually means the chances of seeing dogs in such area during non denning times, should still be much lower than being able to see denning dogs in places in Botswana, SA, Zim.

 

What I mean is would my chances of seeing dogs in March-May in SLNP or the green season in Ruaha be as good as seeing them in Mana in August to October or Lagoon throughout the year especially June-November/Dec. Two questions could arise for a tourist wanting to focus on wild dogs- a.) Would March-May in SLNP be better or July-September in Linyanti/Mana Pools. Guess budget could decide that for Linyanti atleast. b.) If I could only go in March-May and still focussing on dogs, would I go to Ruaha, SLNP or Linyanti (Mana unfortunately would be less accessible, but regular Mana visitors can comment on that)

 

- Given the population rebound in Laikipia and the focussed (and very interesting) dogs tracking itineraries ( which are quite adventurous from what I hear), would definitely keep my eyes and ears open for sightings in Oct-Dec and then in the dry season for next 1-2 years as that might become a strong contender for 'experiencing' wild dogs, and not merely seeing them. Right now, I personally believe its good but there is no trend established for sure like Lagoon or Mana.

 

-Again on Ubuntu, I would keep my expectations in check as those dogs can be sighted in different areas from Lake Eyasi all the way to Northern Loliondo, plus we dont know what the wild dogs relocation to Serengeti and the mid-year killing of 40 dogs in 2012 will mean for Jan-March sightings here in 2013 or beyond.

 

So I think, where to go to see wild dogs would depend on

-population, but more importantly population density and accessibility to walk or hunt or chase with the dogs- foot or vehicle

-How important is it for you to be able to visit den sites and watch the unique social behaviour, uninterrupted and uninterrupting

-What are you prepared to give up by way of sightings being more unpredictable for other species- Mana for example doesnt have the same species diversity as Kruger or Northern Botswana, not sure how would SLNP experience wrt other wildllife be in March-May etc

-What is it that makes dogs more accessible in some areas than others, f.e. in Mana it is the availability of water close to Zambezi as the season dries that is a very determining factor. God forbid, if some day, there are 10s of waterholes maintained deep in the woodlands, that will change this behaviour. Hwange the availability of artificial water makes dogs sightings less predictable. Am not sure whats the reason for such good sightings and record for Lagoon, but would definitely like to know as dogs could get lost in the Mopane woodlands far more often than they end up doing by the look of the sightings.

-Budget, if high season corresponding with denning in some places is your main focus.

 

 

PS- By chances of seeing dogs, I have always meant, to be able to experience their social behaviour, hunts, pack dynamics etc. Not writing this from a tick boxing perspective.

Edited by Anita

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Posted (edited)

What makes Lagoon so good? Anita, simply the marketing for Lagoon and safaristas visiting there have very high expectations to see the dogs; the guide/tracker tandem are there to track and sniff them down! Still - for instance in the green season when they disappear very deep away from the game drive zones you may miss them for a couple of days. Not too many visitors would be willing to go tracking beyond a few hours - that's too bad. You snooze, you lose!!!!

 

The dens of this Lagoon pack have very often been very very close to camp. Exception being 2011 where the den was far away and deep into the woodland.

 

To answer your question of SLNP vs Linyanti in March-May. Don't know - can you be sure to find them in Mar-May in SLNP? If so, i guess you can spend time with them on foot like Zim I suppose. Vehicles would be tougher due to the no-off road thing.

 

In the Linyanti, by May the dogs will be searching high and low for den sites and would be preparing various sites. Your chances will be good i think.

 

In 2010, I hardly spent much time at the den (except when the cheetah boys were sleeping off their full bellies). Those 3 boys put on a show that safari!!!!

 

WOW - the Selous is really pretty high on my wish list of places to get to! Not particularly for the dogs, just the mystique of the Selous I find very intriguing.

 

Re Ubuntu - We were originally thinking of it, but, just went with Olakira Ndutu and Dunia for our trip .............. (Thanks Anita and Paolo for all your inputs and suggestions)

Edited by madaboutcheetah
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In my view, you can't beat seeing dogs hunting in Liuwa. Last month, in the space of 2 weeks I followed the dogs about 4 days and saw about 15 kills, and could follow all the chases when I tried to folllow them. But Liuwa for a self drive tourist is a tough place, and for a regular tourist a very expensive place.

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Kruger Park has appr. 130 dogs, spread over 19 different packs and pretty much all of them live in the southern and the mid section of the reserve

 

How big is thus the area they roam?

 

quite big, I would estimate about 15,000 km²

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What makes Lagoon so good? Anita, simply the marketing for Lagoon and safaristas visiting there have very high expectations to see the dogs; the guide/tracker tandem are there to track and sniff them down! Still - for instance in the green season when they disappear very deep away from the game drive zones you may miss them for a couple of days. Not too many visitors would be willing to go tracking beyond a few hours - that's too bad. You snooze, you lose!!!!

 

actually, when I was at Lagoon in January Carlos told me that once there had been a period (when lions from Namibia had crossed the river) when they had no dogs sightings for a month

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Posted (edited)

In my view, you can't beat seeing dogs hunting in Liuwa. Last month, in the space of 2 weeks I followed the dogs about 4 days and saw about 15 kills, and could follow all the chases when I tried to folllow them. But Liuwa for a self drive tourist is a tough place, and for a regular tourist a very expensive place.

 

I think a few places boasts of multiple kills by dogs every season for few days at a stretch and they always surprise. Throughout early winter this year, Lagoon pack was hunting buffaloes/calves. I have never been to Lagoon but I thought that was fascinating. But Liuwa is very high up in the places I want to visit. I think there are two sets of information here- One for first timers and some people like me who havent had enough (or any) sights of dogs with pups, the whole pups-pack interaction etc, multi-species hunts...and then at some point you are ready to want to branch out and have different experiences (along or without the most talked about ones) like the Laikipia tracking, or a different setting or season like Liuwa, SLNP etc.

 

Egilio- when do dogs den in Liuwa and would second half Nov-early Dec be one of the better times to visit?

Edited by Anita

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In my view, you can't beat seeing dogs hunting in Liuwa. Last month, in the space of 2 weeks I followed the dogs about 4 days and saw about 15 kills, and could follow all the chases when I tried to folllow them. But Liuwa for a self drive tourist is a tough place, and for a regular tourist a very expensive place.

 

I think a few places boasts of multiple kills by dogs every season for few days at a stretch and they always surprise. Throughout early winter this year, Lagoon pack was hunting buffaloes/calves. I have never been to Lagoon but I thought that was fascinating. But Liuwa is very high up in the places I want to visit. I think there are two sets of information here- One for first timers and some people like me who havent had enough (or any) sights of dogs with pups, the whole pups-pack interaction etc, multi-species hunts...and then at some point you are ready to want to branch out and have different experiences (along or without the most talked about ones) like the Laikipia tracking, or a different setting or season like Liuwa, SLNP etc.

 

Egilio- when do dogs den in Liuwa and would second half Nov-early Dec be one of the better times to visit?

 

They are still hunting buffalo calves at Lagoon while we´ve been there last month.

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