Wild dogs are one of Africa’s rarest predators, and sadly, there are few remaining areas of true wilderness which offer the chance to spend quality time with these beautiful animals. Botswana is renowned for superb wild dog viewing, and we hit the jackpot once again at Selinda Camp at a time when the resident pack of wild dogs was denning. Arriving at the den we found the adults – fourteen of them – scattered around, sleeping off what had obviously been a successful hunt earlier that day.

We settled down to watch – adults and youngsters milled around, popping in and out of their den, and after a few minutes, we had counted a staggering total of sixteen four-week old pups. Their high-pitched squeaks and calls signaled their readiness to feed. In this pack, two of the adult females had given birth at the same time, and the alpha female had assumed all nursing duties. It was quite something to watch her standing patiently as all sixteen pups jostled for position. We spent an entire afternoon with the pack, watching and listening as they took turns to groom and fuss over the hyperactive youngsters. These pups will be bound to the den for another two months or so, after which they will start to venture further afield, following the adults and trailing them as they hunt.

One of the most endearing qualities of wild dogs is their genuine affection for each other – it was evident in the way that each pack member greeted the pups as if for the very first time. This enthusiasm is mutual, and the pups will carry it through into adulthood. To be able to spend time with these animals is the best way to experience their incredibly social natures, and watch their dynamic interactions. Each is important to the whole pack, and it was a true privilege to observe them at their den, unaffected by our presence, and getting on with their daily routine.