Snared for generations, Saved for generations

Meet Wild Dog 635, the alpha male of the largest painted wolf pack in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.

“Snared and dying as a pup in 2014, this rescued dog had returned in 2019, now as the alpha male of a new 16-strong pack.” – Tails of Hope and Resilience for the Holidays: The Baobab Pack, from the Zambian Carnivore Programme.

The Zambian Carnivore Programme

The Zambian Carnivore Programme (ZCP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving large carnivores, like painted wolves, and the ecosystems they reside in through a combination of conservation science, conservation actions, and comprehensive education and capacity-building effort.

Wild Dog 635                                                                                                   

To the Baobab pack in South Luangwa, Wild Dog 635 is both alpha male and father to four young pups. To Zambian Carnivore Programme he is the ultimate conservation success story…

He would not be alive today, had it not been for the efforts of ZCP, Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), and Conservation South Luangwa (CSL).

In 2014, ZCP was alerted to Wild Dog 635 who had a wire snare cutting deep into the back of his snout. The snare prevented him from eating. Fortunately, his life-threatening injury was detected and dealt with.

As a yearling in 2015, Wild Dog 635, along with his brother dispersed from his natal pack.

Wild Dog 635, with his deep Joker-like scar, reemerged in August 2019 as the alpha of the Baobab pack that dominates South Luangwa’s baobab forest. It is currently the largest pack in the park.

At this rate, Wild Dog 635 will follow in his father’s paw prints. Wild Dog 635’s father was a legendary alpha that lived to 12 years of age and sired over 160 pups, grandpups and great-grandpups. He too was saved from a deadly snare.

Wild Dog 635 and his father’s story goes to show that saving one wolf can have a major impact on painted wolf populations.


Snares are one of the biggest threats to painted wolves in Africa. Although, not intended to ensnare painted wolves, a set of snares is capable of wiping out an entire pack. Snares are set by poachers hunting for bushmeat (antelope) to feed their families. Wolves that do escape from snares often do so without their limbs or gravely injured. Most escapees die a drawn-out and painful death despite efforts from their nurturing pack mates to keep them alive.

It is thanks to a decade of collaborative anti-snaring efforts that generations of painted wolves have survived and thrived in the park.

South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa, nicknamed Valley of the Leopards, is one of the best places in Africa to see painted wolves in Africa. It’s also the country’s largest carnivore stronghold and has the only population of Masai giraffe outside of Kenya.