The African Wild Dog, or Painted Dog, is one of the elite predators in sub-Saharan Africa. They
are unfortunately also one of the most endangered mammals on Earth. This is in part to their
unique pack structure, where only ten percent of female wild dogs will mother pups. If a young
female wild dog wants to inhabit the role of a mother within a pack, they must disperse and find
a new pack. More than half die while searching.
This is the story of three who survived: The three travelers.
In October 2021, three sisters of the Luamfwa African wild dog pack abandoned their pack. At
three years old, if they did not seek a new pack, they would live as subordinates, without pups,
for the remainder of their lives. The sisters were tracked by radio collar by researchers at
Montana State University.
These sisters traveled more than 1,300 miles, including multiple crossings of the Luangwa River,
home to one of Africa’s largest crocodile populations; entering the Great Rift Valley, where they
crossed paths with several other packs, unsuccessfully; and even crossed the Great East Road
near Lusaka, the primary route of travel between the capital cities of Zambia and Malawi. As of
the story’s publishing, the three sisters were still roaming in search of a new pack.
Migration is fascinating, but when the journey greatly surpasses the expectation, it’s difficult to
find incredible inspiration.