About the

Waterberg Wild Dog Initiative

The Waterberg Wild Dog Initiative (WWDI) is a community-driven, locally-based, non-profit organization aiming to conserve the free-roaming African Wild Dog population in the Waterberg, Limpopo.

African wild dogs are a globally Endangered species due to habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, disease, and conflict with humans. Most of South Africa’s remaining African wild dog population is conserved in formally protected areas. African wild dogs occurring outside of formally protected areas are rare in South Africa.

The Waterberg Wild Dog population is one of South Africa’s last free-roaming African wild dog populations.

Help us conserve African wild dogs
in the Waterberg

Donate to a Specific Need

Frequently Asked Questions

African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus), also known as painted dogs or painted wolves, are highly social carnivores well-known for their pack dynamics. Their cooperative hunting strategies help them play a crucial role in ecosystem balance by keeping prey populations healthy and strong. African wild dogs once used to range throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Sadly, they have become locally extinct across most of their historic range and are listed as an Endangered species by the IUCN Red List due to habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, disease, and conflict with humans.

The Waterberg Wild Dog population is an African wild dog population that ranges freely across a myriad of unprotected, privately owned game farms and nature reserves in the Waterberg region of Limpopo, South Africa. The Waterberg contains a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and is designated as an area of high conservation importance due to the presence of many threatened species indigenous to the region.

African wild dogs are an Endangered species due to habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, disease, and conflict with humans. There are fewer than 600 African wild dogs remaining in South Africa, mostly confined to formally protected areas. Free-ranging African wild dogs, those outside of formally protected areas, are rare in South Africa.

The Waterberg is one of South Africa’s last regions where a free-ranging African wild dog population persists. The population connects Southern Africa’s African wild dog population, the packs play a vital role as a top-order predator in the Waterberg’s biodiverse ecosystem, and their presence highlights the importance of South Africa’s small- to medium-sized private conservation areas in conserving an Endangered species.

African wild dogs’ wide-ranging behavior, naturally low population densities, and intricate pack dynamics make them a challenging species to conserve. This challenge is exacerbated when working outside of formally protected areas. The Waterberg Wild Dogs are not confined to the borders of protected areas and range freely across the diverse Waterberg landscape, regularly encountering threats of persecution, snaring, and road collisions.

Many land uses in the Waterberg, including hunting and game ranching, incentivize the preservation of wildlife and natural landscapes. Unfortunately, this also creates the opportunity for conflict with naturally occurring predators when they predate on financially valuable game species. This creates a unique situation where the Waterberg Wild Dogs are threatened by persecution when predating on natural prey within their natural environment, which is very complex and challenging to mitigate.

The Waterberg Wild Dog Initiative (WWDI) promotes the conservation of the Waterberg Wild Dogs by working within the community to monitor and collect data on the population, provide education, raise awareness, implement projects to mitigate threats, and promote the dogs’ ecotourism potential in the region. Conserving the Waterberg Wild Dog population highlights the important role that private conservation areas can play in conserving threatened wildlife in South Africa.

wild dog
Woman watches African wild dogs

See the packs during their denning season!

From approximately June – August, the WWDI works with private properties to help facilitate an ecotourism project to bring guests in to see the packs during their denning season and raise funds to support the private properties hosting them during this critical time.

Once in a Lifetime

Help Make a Difference

African Wild Dogs in the Waterberg

Report a Sighting

Follow Us On

Social Media

Some of Our Generous