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, 16 December 2012 - 01:33 AM.