In the heart of Botswana’s Okavango delta lies a gem of nature – a place teeming with game and a huge abundance of predators – lions, leopards, hyenas. Once there were plenty of wild dogs living here, but with such fierce competition from other predators their numbers decreased until only one small pack – two males and a female remained. Then, the two male wild dogs disappeared – most likely victims of the ever-increasing population of lions. The female wild dog was left all alone to fend for herself in a hostile world. Her name is Solo. For the first six months, Solo wandered the park hunting by herself, avoiding the fearsome predators which would kill her given half a chance.

Wild dogs are team players, born to run with the pack, but now Solo was all by herself. Solo eventually gave up calling for her missing mates, and observers assumed she would wander away in search of new ones. But instead, Solo settled on the island of Mombo and started behaving in a very surprising way. She made friends with young spotted hyenas. As if this wasn’t unusual enough, Solo began associating with several families of black-backed jackals. It seems her instinctive desire to be part of a pack was driving her behavior.

It may appear improbable for a wild dog to form such a close bond with hyenas and jackals, but this relationship works and brings benefits to each of them. Solo is a superb hunter and regularly chases down impala. But now instead of hunting with a pack of dogs, Solo is accompanied on her hunts by her motley pack of hyenas and jackals. Her friends get a reliable supply of food courtesy of Solo. They in turn help warn Solo of approaching lions that would otherwise try to kill her. So close is Solo to her hyena friends that when she comes into estrous she even presents herself to them for mating.

But it’s Solo’s relationship with the jackals that is most surprising. Over the last few years, Solo has helped the jackals raise their pups, frequently regurgitating food to them just as she would her own pups. At first the adult jackals were wary of this strange interloper and tried to chase Solo off by biting and attacking her. But once she started feeding the pups, the jackals accepted her. Now Solo often spends the day resting close together with the jackals and the pups have grown extremely close to her. Spending so much time with the jackals has its benefits for Solo’s favorite food, impala, do not seem to recognize the danger as long as she is among her jackal friends. Often the impala venture unwittingly close, making it easier for Solo to catch them.

As the dry season sets in, rain pools on the island of Mombo dry out — forcing the animals to wander away to the edge of the swamp. Solo is now forced to leave her jackal family and home and go in search of food. In doing so, she comes across a new family of jackals with tiny pups. So strong is her desire for her own offspring that Solo kidnaps the young pups, preventing the parents from getting near to them. The adult jackals may be traumatized, but the pups love Solo for she feeds, grooms, and protects them; even chasing away her old hyena friends that wander dangerously close. Living in a land of lions, Solo benefits from her friendships as the jackals are forever alert to approaching danger. But when a pack of wild dogs suddenly appear, Solo has to make a choice – to stay with her adopted family or join her own kind.

Tune in to A Wild Dog’s Tale this Sunday at 9P on Nat Geo WILD

Comments

  1. Kelly
    March 31, 2013, 8:36 pm

    Disappointed. How many wild dogs played “Solo?”

  2. Chong Gregory
    76522 copperas cove, Texas
    April 1, 2013, 12:13 pm

    awesome story!!!!!! I’ve waited whole week to see solo’s story!!!!
    I’m a huge fan of wild dogs and learned a deep respect for them through watching their stories from Nat Geo Wild.
    Thank you so much Nat Geo Wild!!!!

  3. jackie
    new york
    April 1, 2013, 4:29 pm

    when will you replay this as i was so sorry to miss it?

  4. SJackson
    April 1, 2013, 7:14 pm

    Had to comment, because I Loved It!! It was very nice to watch Solo’s story and very interesting to see different wild dogs together and acceptant of one another, which doesn’t happen often. so I loved it.

  5. Judy
    Illinois
    April 1, 2013, 9:25 pm

    Incredible story! Animals amaze us every day. She’s a survivor!

  6. Cathy
    April 2, 2013, 7:05 pm

    Loved Solo’s story. We don’t see enough about wild dogs and they are interesting, beautiful annimals. I felt the story left us hanging. How is Solo now? Has she found a pack or had pups of her own?

  7. David & Emma
    Devon, UK
    April 3, 2013, 12:35 pm

    Wow this is amazing that you have just done a piece on the single wild dog at Mombo. We have just returned to the UK having had a formal introduction to Solo and her eating habits! During our first day in camp we sat and watched Solo with her Jackal companion until her tummy rumbled. She sauntered off, on her own, with us in hot pursuit until she came across her favourite meal, impala. After a brief chase, which ended up in a water hole, she brought down a teenage impala. We watched as she ate first and then raced off to bring back her jackal friend. To watch the two of them eating together was a very special and unusual sight. The meal was interrupted by the arrival of two hyena who stole the remainder of the carcass and ran off. According to our guide Solo will now keep out of the way of any visiting wild dog packs. It seems she prefers the company of hyena & jackal. This is all caught on film which we will upload. Not able to watch the NatGeo documentary as we don’t have sky so we will have to get someone to record it for us.

  8. terry
    juneau, alaska
    April 4, 2013, 8:24 pm

    have to agree with kelly- this filming showed several different wild dogs playing the part of solo

  9. Raymond Pierotti
    April 4, 2013, 9:06 pm

    I am a scientist studying social bonding in various canids and their bonding with other species. This is a great story. Has this been published and is there a scientist working on this story that i could contact?

  10. JWT
    Texas
    April 5, 2013, 6:40 am

    I’m I the only one hoping for jackal/wild dog hybird pups in the near future? *crosses fingers*

  11. DogLover
    San Diego
    April 5, 2013, 1:48 pm

    I love this documentary! Great filming and extraordinary story! The interaction and strange behavior Solo demonstrates is extremely rare. The friendship and bond she has with the pups and the jackals really warm my heart.

    Animals have deep sense of love, trust, and honor toward each other too and it is so amazing to witness this via the film.

    Thank you, Nat Geo Wild for this special program!

    I truly love it!

  12. lynzee
    April 7, 2013, 10:10 am

    This story of Solo is amazing. The community bond she needed so badly, and she made her own. I hope there might be a “sequel” of this incredible wild dog.

  13. vidal
    227 ingham ave
    April 9, 2013, 7:51 am

    i was womdering about why did solo the wild dog took over the jackal puppies in the documentary.

  14. Linda Jane O'Brien
    April 11, 2013, 5:31 am

    I’ve seen the trailer of this new documentary on Nat Geo Wild, due for release on Swiss TV on 21/04/2013. I can’t wait to see it. Just goes to show that when referring to these creatures, we shouldn’t limit ourselves to thinking of them as a species, but individuals. They merit more respect than we’re capable of giving, a disadvantage derived from our own limitations and short-sightedness.

  15. Vanessa Fleming
    Australia
    April 11, 2013, 5:20 pm

    When will this show in Australia? How about Zimbabwe??
    Thanks, vf.
    PS Have seen Solo at Mombo – a great story.

  16. Ten tena
    April 12, 2013, 2:59 pm

    amazing how wild animal protect them young one esp at that crucial vulnerable stage & state. Huge sums of cash humans spend to rid off them offsprings in the name of abortion!
    Extra amazing how a different species would coexist & find comfort in another species. I totally dunno why humans try eliminate its own species…machetes, guns, bombs &nuclear weapons. Arms race is race against humanity & human kind.
    I never doubt wild animals will reign afta the demise & extinction of man no matter how the latter tries to defile mother nature.

  17. lisa
    new York state
    April 16, 2013, 8:22 pm

    I’m with Kathy I would like an update on solo, so many times we see a show like this and we never hear anything more about it………..lady luiwa the lone lionness comes to mind! I really hope to hear more news about solo!

  18. Adrienne Lang
    Houston
    April 20, 2013, 11:41 am

    I just returned from Mombo and saw Solo! She has had some mange on her rigthside, but it is improving. We were told she took care of 3 jackel dens this past season and just wore herself out. We watched her for about an 90 minutesand also saw one of her jackels come lie down near her. She is an amazing survivor.

  19. raulisa blessing
    louis trichard
    April 21, 2013, 3:18 pm

    Wow this is amazing I enjoyed da document.solo its just something solo she’s a african queen

  20. SweetStreamStables
    April 28, 2013, 12:53 am

    just wow.

    I am watching it right now where the group of 16 wild dogs come…. this is just such a touching story! Amazing….
    Female Canines sure have family instincts!

  21. lesley hannah
    kenya
    April 28, 2013, 2:23 am

    It is a true story of one dog that loses her family. One dog is filmed and for you non believers, watch more carefully …. how sad to have become so suspicious of how wildlife films are made. Appreciate the amazing story for what it is. Please.

  22. Raymie Foulks
    Phoenix, Az
    May 7, 2013, 2:08 am

    What happened to Solo? Did she ever leave the jackal family any find her own?

  23. Damian Gardiner
    Melbourne Australia
    May 19, 2013, 5:40 am

    Solo is definitely just one dog.
    She has a piece missing from one ear
    and i doubt there would be two or even
    three dogs that are as amazing as solo.

  24. Tony
    Australia
    May 30, 2013, 9:58 am

    Can anyone record the episode of solo and upload it on utube please.cause I really want to see it thank you.

  25. Melisa
    Texas
    July 14, 2013, 11:02 am

    Beautiful story! Well done as well. Thank you everyone for the updates. I can only hope to “meet” her one day.

  26. Tom
    United States
    July 16, 2013, 7:40 am

    For those asking about Solo’s status.. our family is just back from Mombo, where we saw Solo and the jackals hanging out being lazy early one morning. It appears life goes on as before for Solo.

  27. Dorothy
    July 18, 2013, 10:02 pm

    I want to know what happens to Solo…does she stay with the last jackal family or find a pack of dogs?

  28. angelica
    idaho
    July 19, 2013, 9:02 am

    I love this.. and I hate I didn’t get to see her find her a new family
    But I’m glad to know that she’s still alive. I hope to hear more or even see an update episode on her. Thank you nat Geo Wild for bringing me Entertainment.

  29. Adrian
    Chicago
    July 25, 2013, 2:21 pm

    Great show, you need to show more like this.

  30. Bella
    South Africa
    August 13, 2013, 3:18 pm

    Just back from Mombo camp and Solo is still doing well. We saw her sleeping under a tree not far from her jackal friends.

  31. Elizabeth
    Florida
    August 18, 2013, 5:38 pm

    Just watched A Wild Dogs Tale on NatGeo and loved it! The filming was so good I felt like I was there. I logged on here to see if there was an update on Solo, her story of being alone is sad to me, however it seems from other posts that she still has her family of jackals and is doing well. Its nice to know she’s not alone!

  32. Dana Penaherrera
    Illinois
    August 26, 2013, 1:42 pm

    Is she still alive today in 2013?

  33. Sean Carter
    Mombo Camp
    October 24, 2013, 4:04 am

    24/10/13 – Solo is alive and well, there are a few jackal dens that she has been seen at recently, but 1 den in particular is where she spends most of her time. There are 4 adult jackals, (the parents and 2 offspring from last year) and then 2 little pups. Solo never really leaves the den except to hunt. Her mange is gone and she is looking as healthy as ever. Solo is around 10 years old now, so still has a few years left.

    We have recently seen a pack of 5 male dogs roaming around solo’s area, there sole purpose is to find a mate to join them. So far they haven’t come into contact with each other, that we know of.

  34. ERS
    Santiago, Chile
    December 1, 2013, 6:35 pm

    Thank you Sean for the info. It’s an amazing story.

    Are you planning to film a second part?

  35. Beth
    Texas
    January 24, 12:20 am

    Please provide a Solo update. She is amazing!

  36. Russ
    Rehoboth Beach Delaware
    January 26, 10:21 am

    Solo’s story pulled me in. God to hear she is doing well.

  37. A. L. Z.
    Indiana
    January 30, 9:00 pm

    Thanks for the three updates, and it is the same dog. The only white she has on her left side, besides her armpit, is the white patch on her shoulder. She has a notch in her left ear. On her right side she has a small white spot in the center of her rib cage behind her shoulder /humerus, and the tan from her neck extends to her shoulder. She also has a white patch on her back above her hips. Sometimes the view/ scene is reversed so her ledt side markings appear to be on her right side and vice versa

  38. Jeff
    New Jersey
    January 31, 12:15 am

    I love Solo. I wish I could take her home, give her a nice bath and let her sit on the couch with me and Buddy, my Boston, and watch TV.

  39. Steve S
    Allentown pa
    January 31, 7:27 pm

    What a show , saw it jan 20th 2014 . Is Solo still alive .

  40. Janna
    Baltimore, US
    January 31, 7:56 pm

    Love Solo’s story!!!!. Watched 2nd time. What a pity I did not know about Solo when I was in Botswana last march. I’d like to see this amazing animal!

  41. cilas
    botswana
    February 11, 3:55 am

    We have not seen solo since December 2013 but a pack of 5 has been seen close to camp recently.Jackal packs are still around in the same area she has been moving around

  42. jim
    Alberta - Canada
    February 16, 5:24 pm

    I love watching the African documentaries they sure have came a long way since mutual of Omaha thanks to all the film makers that go out in the African wilds and get this amazing footage if it wasn’t for them people I would not enjoy the African wild

  43. Jeff Jacobs
    USA
    March 29, 5:54 am

    Absolutely touching story… Wish there was more TV like this. Any chance of an update on the status of Solo?

  44. mary leigh
    pompano beach florida usa
    April 15, 5:08 pm

    Oh no. You have not seen her since Dec. 2013. Any recent news?

  45. mary leigh
    Pompano Beach USA
    April 16, 7:26 pm

    I was wondering if the 16 dog pack in the movie is the same dog pack the Kratt brothers were studying in Botswana. Their program is called Be the Creature it is on youtube. It is such a
    coincidence because both films were made at the same time and place.

  46. mary leigh
    Pompano Beach Fl
    April 20, 1:09 pm

    Is the book, Solo: The Story of an African Wild Dog
    Lawick, Hugo van; about Solo the dog in the movie?

  47. mary leigh
    Pompano Beach,Fl
    May 13, 8:54 am

    Solo: The Story of an African Dog was written many yeas ago – so I know know it is not the same dog. It was a very good story and study of the wild dogs.

  48. John Russo
    United States
    June 1, 6:51 pm

    mary leigh can you provide info? Can anyone from this documentary state if this story is true or not. If there is an old story does that mean this one is fake? Hate to think I am worrying about a fictitious wild dog. We know certain types think lying about stuff to drum up support for their cause is acceptable behavior. I agree we should care about wild life but getting jerked around makes me want to look for more valid causes to help. :(

  49. mary leigh
    pompano beach florida usa
    June 8, 4:53 pm

    They are 2 different african wild dogs with the same name. The first Solonone was about a dog, raised for a short time by Hugo Van Lawick. It was written in 1974. The current , Solo, who has not been seen for a while and who was the star of the recent Solo movie is another African wild dog. Totally different stories about African WIld dogs.