Every Dog Had Its Day…

Author Jules Hadley and Murray McCullum
Date March 08, 2022

African Wild Dog Disease Prevention

Vaccination roll out for Botswana’s village dogs…

As part of a vaccination and sterilisation outreach initiative in November 2021, we worked together with the Maun Animal Welfare Society (MAWS) and Botswana Predator Conservation Trust to vaccinate village dogs in order to protect the African Wild Dog population. 

There may be some dispute about the appropriate name of the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) – also referred to as African painted dog, African hunting dog and painted wolf – but there is no disputing that this is a species under threat. In fact, African wild dogs are the most endangered of Africa’s iconic apex predators with a current IUCN status of endangered, and with future prospects looking precarious.

Apart from habitat fragmentation, one of the primary threats to the African wild dog is their susceptibility to viral diseases such as Canine Distemper Virus (CDV). CDV is easily transmitted from domestic dogs to African wild dogs. Unfortunately, African wild dog contact with human settlements (and their canine counterparts) is unavoidable, especially for a wide-ranging species in an increasingly fragmented environment. Inevitably, as villages grow so too does the domestic dog population. A further complexity is that villages in Ngamiland (North-West District of Botswana) are situated in wildlife management areas, further exacerbating the likelihood of encounters with African wild dog.

The recent illness and death of a wild dog close to Khwai Village, was a timely reminder of this ever-present viral threat and the need to take immediate action. A CDV outbreak could wipe out the wild dog population of the area, and as a matter of urgency, The Natural Selection Foundation funded a vaccination programme for domestic dogs in villages closest to the Khwai Private Reserve.

It was coordinated and run by the Maun Animal Welfare Society and Botswana Predator Conservation Trust. They focused on the villages of Khwai, Mababe and Sankuyo. The community support and adoption of this disease management initiative is critical for managing not only the health of village dogs, but is an essential component of protecting Botswana’s wildlife, National Parks, and Game Reserves. The vaccination programme creates a “buffer zone” between domestic animal diseases and wild animal populations.

In total 87 dogs were administered a 5 in 1 vaccination which covers Canine Distemper, Adenovirus, Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Parainfluenza. 79 dogs were vaccinated for Rabies and 3 dogs were sterilized.


From the beginning, Natural Selection has been about creating an excellent safari experience that gives back. Through the Natural Selection Foundation, we are fully committed to making a significant positive impact on the conservation of wildlife and on the communities living in and near wildlife areas of Africa. To do so we pledge 1.5% of every guests stay in our camps to conservation.


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