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This week I wish I was…just metres from a pack of painted dog in Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools.

Fourth week of August... African wild dog (sometimes known as painted dog or Cape hunting dog) occupy an almost mythical status in many parts of Africa.  Local people are fearful and superstitious, holding them responsible for livestock deaths which are often the work of hyena or lion.  Their intriguing markings, each one unique as a fingerprint, and intimate social structure together with impressive hunting success rate makes them a fascinating creature to watch.  Furthermore, they are amongst the most endangered carnivores in the world with fewer than 5,000 individuals remaining.

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Highly intelligent and sociable, wild dog hunt in packs and communicate constantly through strange bird-like hoots and chirps.  Since they often face the loss of hard-won kills to larger predators, they try to avoid attracting attention and dispatch their prey as quickly and quietly as possible.  The speed with which they can consume an impala (bite-swallow-bite-swallow) would put happy hour at McDonalds in the shade.  After the hunt, the pack will return to the den and regurgitate their kill for pups, old and injured pack members. Seeing wild dog is infrequent enough to be special however you do it, but Mana Pools in Zimbabwe  is one of the few places that you can do so on foot.  Experienced guides who spend their office hours in this scenically beautiful and game-rich park, have got to know individual dogs in addition to the many elephant and lion that reside in the area.  The thrill that comes with walking amongst wild animals is difficult to replicate but the opportunity to meet a pack of wild dog on their own terms, hear their calls and watch them interact is a truly once in a lifetime experience. Check out safari ideas that include Mana Pools. Read more about Mana Pools National Park. Learn about painted dogs and conservation efforts in Zimbabwe. Picture courtesy of Vundu Camp.

Posted by: Amanda Mitchell

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