Wolf and other large Canids

Under this title we will include all members of this family that are apex predators in their environment. In other words it will include wolves, African wild dogs, Ethiopian wolves and dholes.

While lesser canines are more common things to see, these apex predators (in many cases more than capable of taking on large tigers and lion – when working as a team) are in all ecosystems rare. Nevertheless they are one of the most successful Hunters and therefore have an outsized effect on the ecosystem they live in. 

Wolves have been persecuted across Europe and Asia and the USA. As such it is only in recent decades that we can see the impacts that they have as they return. The wolves return to Yellowstone is one of the most well-known occasions where a wolf’s return has changed the whole ecosystem. Though less well-known they have also been making great strides in Western Europe, with populations expanding from small strongholds in Italy and northern Portugal and slowly recolonizing territories across Western Europe. Recent genetic analysis shows wolves are found in Africa, though here their behaviour is more like a jackal than its European cousins.

Ethiopian wolves behave quite differently to the grey wolf, but this is as much to do with habitat and prey availability as it is about anything else. Most of their hunting is done individually (they are also red) but are apex predators in their habitat. Despite its different behaviour and assistance, it is a close relative of the wolf

Wild dog, while persecuted in some places, seem to have had the hardest time at the hands of illness. One of the best known populations before it’s loss was the wild dog of the Serengeti – 1995 seemingly the entire population was wiped out. It seems however that they may have survived in some small part of this ecosystem as they have been gradually returning of their own accord. Nevertheless similar problems have occurred for them everywhere they are found. Unfortunately, like cheetah they only do particularly well in very large reserves – though they also can function very well in particularly small reserves where they don’t have to compete with lion and leopard. Indeed in South Africa a large percentage of the cheetah population is found outside protected areas on farmland.

The dhole, also known as the Asiatic wild dog is the last species closely related we will follow. Up until 20,000 years ago, this predator roamed through Asia Europe and North America. Found throughout a range of Asian countries, not surprisingly there are a long list of subspecies. Unfortunately, with just 2500 adults in total some of these subspecies are likely to be lost.

These are all sorted predators and canids, and therefore it is reasonable to cover them together. Each is important in the ecosystem they are found in, and each is an apex predator in their home (though in some they are not the apex predator).

Below our list of places to see these animals you will find a list of articles on these fascinating species


Limpopo Transfrontier park including Kruger sabi sands and other conservation areas
Greater Serengeti
See Animals Wild