Puppy-snatchers in Botswana

July 16, 2019 | Expert Africa


A pack of wild dogs has given Cruella De Vil a run for her money in the Okavango Delta, Botswana – by stealing puppies from a rival pack. 

Over the last few weeks, two neighbouring packs of Africa’s rarest large predator have been at odds with each other. The ‘Splash’ pack of eight wild dogs has travelled over 5km from their den to stalk, ambush and harass a smaller local pack, which had just four adults. Twice they’ve chased away the alpha female and have forced her to relocate the den to protect her pack. After much planning, they kidnapped (or perhaps dog-napped) all three puppies from the smaller pack and took them back to their own den – to join their own 11 younger offspring.

This kind of behaviour between packs is rare, but it’s not the first time that this smaller pack has fallen victim to abduction. In 2017, the same thieving dogs stole the pack’s only puppy, which was out of the den at the time and running wild.

Tico JW McNutt, PhD, Director at Botswana Predator Conservation Trust, says:

“Wild dogs are predisposed to care for young even if they are not their own, so this behaviour between neighbouring packs is fascinating but not entirely surprising; I suspect these two packs are the result of a fission* of a larger pack, probably dating back to 2017.” 

* Fission of a pack of wild dogs results in two (or more) packs in which the adults are all related, and therefore so too are their offspring.

The pup-nappers are now 13 puppies strong and showing no remorse for their crime. The stolen pups are alive and well: they are playing with the younger pups and appear happy and healthy; all being fed and cared for by the adult dogs of ‘Splash’ pack. 

The guides at Splash Camp – who spotted the changing pack dynamics – are keeping their eyes peeled to see how the relationship between packs develops over the coming weeks.  

Stay at Splash Camp and search out these wild dogs (or painted wolves as they’re often called) for yourself: there is limited space left in late July and mid-August. Expert Africa’s expert team can handcraft an itinerary designed for you, for example: 

Mopane Squirrel Safari

A week-long exploration of the wildlife-rich Kwando Reserve and the Okavango Delta in Botswana by 4WD and boat. Spend three nights at Splash Camp (where the two dog packs described above can be seen) and three at Lagoon Camp. Expect great big game and predator sightings.  

This trip costs from £3,546 pp (two sharing), including six nights’ full-board accommodation, all game activities, transfers and park fees. International flights extra.

Wild Dog Safari

Get under Botswana’s skin on this two-week adventure. Travel from the drier Chobe National Park, through the Kwando and Moremi reserves, to finish at Splash Camp (where the two dog packs described above can be seen) in the Okavango – a journey through some of Africa’s top areas.

This trip costs from £6,992 pp (two sharing), including 13 nights’ full-board accommodation, all game activities, transfers and park fees. International flights extra.

The Expert Africa team knows Botswana intimately. Its MD, Chris McIntyre, wrote the first English guidebook to the country in 1990. The latest edition (Botswana Safari Guide, published by Bradt Publications) is a team effort with company’s the other Botswana experts. A free copy is included for all of Expert Africa’s travellers to Botswana: perfect for insider knowledge in advance.‎ 

For further information, or to talk to a safari specialist, call Expert Africa on 020 3405 6666 or visit www.expertafrica.com.

Press: For further information call Charlotte Griffiths or Mischa Mack at Travel PR on 020 8891 4440 or email c.griffiths@travelpr.co.uk / m.mack@travelpr.co.uk.