Tag Archives: wild dog dispersal

Wild dogs move 470km from Zimbabwe to Botswana

Hi folks,

Apologies that this is slightly old news – I never seem to get a moment to catch up with life at the moment, but this story is too exciting to miss!

A few months ago, I got an email from a colleague of mine, Craig Jackson, who works on wild dogs in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve in Botswana.  He attached a photo of an adult male wild dog who had recently showed up in the Tuli Game Reserve but no-one knew where he had come from. This is the photo Craig sent:

unknown dog - Tuli

I just could not believe it when I opened the photo file and immediately recognized the dog in question!!!  We all know wild dogs can travel long distances, and recently we’ve started to share photos of dogs that randomly show up on the off-chance someone else recognizes them, but I didn’t really expect much from that.  So you can imagine my excitement when I saw that indeed yes I did recognize the dog!  He is a male dog that was born on Mapari Ranch in Save Valley Conservancy in 2008.  We called him Milo, and here is one of my old photos of him.

Mapari-04-03-09-Milo LHS niceish

The mark at the top of his hind left leg is unmistakable and all other features matched too, so I was very confident in confirming the match.  A few days later, Craig managed to get a photo of another male wild dog who had been with Milo, and we could also confirm that as one of our males from Save Valley – Milo’s brother Macbeth!

So all in all, these two dogs moved approximately 470km (straight line distance) from where they were born, crossed huge expanses of inhospitable territory, and an international boundary, and ended up joining some female wild dogs and forming a new pack in Botswana.  Quite incredible!!

Just prior to this, another long distance dispersal had been picked up when a group of dogs moved almost 500km from the Northern Tuli Game Reserve in Botswana to Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.  These two were (and still are) the longest wild dog dispersals ever recorded.  The map below shows these movements.


For more on this story, see Craig’s blog by clicking here.

As part of a collaborative conservation effort within the Southern African region, I am putting together a regional photographic database of all known, photographed wild dogs in northern South Africa, southern Zimbabwe and south eastern Botswana, and we hope this will help us pick up on more of these long distance dispersal events to further our understanding of dispersal patterns and the consequences for genetic diversity.

And maybe one of these days we will get lucky and it will be a dog fitted with a GPS collar that disperses – imagine the information that collar download would give us!


Bachelor group of wild dogs wander widely in search of females

One of the groups of wild dogs that split off from the original Bedford Pack is a group of 14 males.  I’ve temporarily named them the Bedford Bachelors (!), until they hook up with some females and make a new pack.  Since they split off from the rest of the pack which has now settled down at the den they have been wandering far and wide to try and find some females.  On one expedition, they moved 51kms in less than 2 days!

The map below shows their normal home range (small pink stars), with the increasingly darker large red stars showing their movements over a two day period.

Bedford Bachelors head off in search of females!

Bedford Bachelors head off in search of females!

This just goes to show the value of the GPS collars – without one, we would have had no idea where these dogs had gone.  Moreover, we would have spent a lot of time and effort looking for a ‘new’ pack of wild dogs in these southern areas, as people reported seeing them, and we know there are not normally dogs there!

Hopefully they will find some girls soon and settle down to the serious matter of mating and producing pups!

One of the Bedford Bachelors, Flint, off in search of a lady

One of the Bedford Bachelors, Flint, off in search of a lady

A big group of their female siblings are also missing from the main pack – presumably off doing their own circuit of the conservancy to try and find some unrelated males!  Unfortunately, they are not collared, so we have to rely on infrequent opportunistic sightings to know what they are up to.  Hopefully they will find some males and we will find their den site in a couple of months…

I’ll keep you posted with how these Bachelor Boys get on.