The African Wild Dogs of Madikwe

Molori Safari, one of our collection’s luxury lodges, is located in the world-renowned Madikwe Game Reserve. At 75 000 hectares, Madikwe Game Reserve is the fifth largest game reserve in South Africa and boasts not only the Big 5, but the Super 7 as well.

What does that mean?

Well, it means that guests can look forward to viewing leopard, lion, buffalo, elephants, rhino, cheetah and a very special species known as the African wild dog – one of Africa’s most endangered carnivores. Together, they form the Super 7!

The Latin name for the African wild dog is Lycaon Pictus, meaning ‘painted wolf,’ and they have become something of an unofficial ambassador for the Madikwe Game Reserve.

Here’s why…

A Population in Decline

African wild dogs once roamed the plains of southern and eastern Africa in packs of dozens strong. They flourished especially in Tanzania’s Serengeti, where packs could number up to 100. Today, these numbers are difficult to imagine and sadly, the entire global population is estimated to be about 5000 in total.

The overall population decline was as a result of urban sprawl, disease carried over by domestic dog species and, hunting, especially by farmers who saw wild dogs as a threat to their livestock.

But, all hope was not lost.

The Painted Wolves of Madikwe

The Madikwe Game Reserve, named after the Madikwe or Marico River, was established in 1991. With its open grasslands and bushveld plains, it presented the perfect location for wild animals to live and thrive.

After its inception, what ensued was one of the largest game relocation programmes ever staged. It was known as Operation Phoenix, because many species were being given the opportunity to begin again or ‘rise from the ashes,’ as it were. Over the course of six years, more than 8000 animals were moved to the reserve.

As part of this programme, in 1994, a pack of six African wild dogs was brought to the reserve from a breeding programme in the Kruger National Park. This original pack became known as “The Collection”.

A Challenging Start

Although every effort was made to distance The Collection from man-made threats, the bushveld can be an unforgiving place in and of itself.

Initially, the pack was greatly affected by lion attacks and disease but, as they became accustomed to their new home and with close supervision by conservationists and ecologists, they overcame these challenges and began to multiply.

An Ambassador of Hope

In time, more African wild dogs from packs at other reserves were introduced to the Madikwe Game Reserve. With increased genetic diversity came a larger, stronger painted wolf population.

Today, the reserve boasts several thriving packs and visitors flock from near and far to experience these extraordinary animals up-close. Painted wolves prove a delight to watch, often engaging in rambunctious play within eyesight of the game driving vehicles.

Their success story makes them the perfect ambassador of hope for other species driven to the brink of extinction, and though many challenges still exist, the Madikwe Game Reserve remains a haven for these curious, intelligent animals.

If you’d like to learn about African wild dogs in more detail, click here.

Stay At Molori Safari Lodge

If you dream of seeing painted wolves up-close, you couldn’t ask for a better safari destination than Molori Safari Lodge.

Located in a secluded corner of the Madikwe Game Reserve, our lodge boasts absolute privacy and the unique opportunity to track these animals with one of our skillful guide and tracker teams.

Book your getaway to South Africa and experience an unforgettable safari with us, spearheaded by our tenacious ambassador, the African wild dog…

Get In Touch

M: +27 (0) 82 613 5723

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