Dynasties – the Painted Wolf episode

Dynasties, from BBC Earth, is said to showcase “the most intimate and intense stories of their kind ever told”.

What is Dynasties?

Dynasties is a new kind of natural history event from the BBC Earth and the legendary Sir David Attenborough. Five episodes, five of the most celebrated and endangered animals on the planet. For each episode of Dynasties, our crews spent many hundreds of days in a single, iconic location, each home to one of our animals. Nick and Des Murray from Vundu Camp have followed the wild dogs ( painted wolves) of Mana Pools for decades, and are honoured to share their story for the Painted Wolves episode.


Here is a snippet Black Tip’s story that will be told once the episode is released.


This is a species that has almost too many common names to count. It’s Latin name – Lycaon pictus – means painted wolf and it is a misunderstood and widely persecuted species. They share a common ancestor with the wolf but are not descended from them. Painted wolves are not often the focus of natural history films because they are very hard to follow!

  • Also known as: African Wild Dog or African Hunting Dog
  • Scientific name: Lycaon pictus
  • Group: Mammal
  • Family: Canidae
  • Ancestors: Lycaon Sekowei
  • Average size: 1-1.5 metres tall
  • Average weight: 17.9-35.8kg
  • Average life span: Up to 11 years
  • Diet: Antelope, wildebeest, zebra
  • Habitat: Grasslands, savannahs and open woodlands. While they used to roam across most of sub-Saharan Africa, Painted Wolves now live only in Southern and South Eastern African countries like Botswana and Zimbabwe.

From BBC Earth

Dynasties BBC Earth_Dynasties Press-1
Dynasties BBC Earth_Dynasties Tait

The Story

Tait is a painted wolf, the matriarch of one of the last great families of this endangered animal. She has ruled her dynasty for many years on the banks of Zambezi river in Zimbabwe, keeping the peace within her sprawling family. Tait is the most successful painted wolf ever known. There are only 6600 painted wolves left in the world. To date, there are 280 from Tait’s own bloodline which is a significant contribution to the future of this endangered animal. Tait has ruled her pack uncontested for five years, where she has reared eight litters of pups. Two of her daughters now rule packs of their own and live on either side of Tait’s territory. All together they are a formidable dynasty. But Tait is growing old and her powers are waning.

Tait is growing old and her power is waning. One of her daughters, Blacktip, lives close by. Her own pack is growing fast and they are running out of space. She urgently needs to get more territory so that her pack can catch enough food. But she has a problem. She is hemmed in on one side by human lands. There is only one way she can go to get what she needs – her own mother’s lands.

Painted wolves thrive through cooperation. It is what had made this dynasty so strong, for so long. A family feud could bring it to its knees.

Dynasties Images: Copyright Nick Lyon