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Painted Wolves Factfile

By Mountain Kingdoms in Africa and the Middle East - 29th November 2018

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The Nyakasanga Pack, Mana Pools National Park

Little known or understood, especially in comparison to the animal superstars of the African bush, painted wolves, or wild dogs, are finally gaining worldwide attention. No more so than this weekend when David Attenborough’s highly acclaimed new series on BBC1 – Dynasties - follows two packs of painted wolves in Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe.

Our colleague, Jude, was fortunate enough to travel to Zimbabwe last month to try out the latest addition to our portfolio of walking safaris, Mana Pools & Lake Kariba Walking Safari, and was fortunate enough to encounter one of these packs as she walked through Mana Pools.

Here Jude shares some of the many fascinating facts she learned about these rare and striking animals.

  • Painted wolves are neither dog nor wolf but a distinct species, Lycaon Pictus.
  • There are only 6,500 painted wolves left in the world – around 200 of these live in Mana Pools National Park in the far north of Zimbabwe.
  • Every wolf has a unique coat pattern making individuals easy to spot – if you know what you’re looking for!
  • They are Africa’s most endangered predator. Humans are their greatest enemies and constitute the biggest threat to their survival, primarily through habitat fragmentation and hunting.
  • Painted wolves work use team work and stamina rather than stealth to hunt. They can run at up to 60km an hour for over 3km, making them incredibly effective predators. Some experts claim they have a success rate of up to 80% per hunt.
  • Even though they are Africa’s most successful predators, there is apparently no record of a painted wolf ever attacking a human.
  • Unlike other pack animals, it is the females who head off to find a mate elsewhere, often travelling long distances, whilst the males remain in their home territory.
  • Painted wolves packs have a strict social hierarchy, headed up by the alpha female.Go girls!
  • When it comes to mealtimes any pups are usually fed first and meat is then shared amongst the whole pack, irrespective of status.
  • The pack will care for injured or elderly members, supporting and feeding them. Maybe we could learn a thing or two from their care in the community programme.

If watching Dynasties leaves you wanting your own close-up encounter with painted wolves then take a look at our new Mana Pools & Lake Kariba Walking Safari.

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