Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wild dogs of the African plains

African Wild dogs (source)
The African painted hunting dog or African Wild Dog. Truly beautiful animals that have been hunted to the point where there are now only about 3000 animals left out of  more than 500 000. It is understandable considering the encroachment of man and farming on their habitat. Sad but understandable.
So now what can I tell you about these wild dogs? Well they have a few things that make them stand out from other predators. They don't fight amongst themselves, not even at feeding time. Instead of fighting over food they beg rather than injuring each other.
One of the most efficient hunters in Africa (source)
You see, they hunt in packs and every member of the pack is needed to help provide, so when one is injured they lose a provider and land up having to provide for the injured member, which they do. Those dogs who come back from the hunt regurgitate food for the pups and any member who has stayed at the den. Pups obviously stay behind as does the mother and so do a few of the fit dogs remain behind to guard the den. Injured or sick dogs also remain behind. They are very caring and social animals.
Another very interesting thing about these dogs is the fact that, of the predators of the world, only the Tasmanian Devil has a stronger bite. (Bite force quotient, the strength of the bite relative to the mass of the animal). Probably because of the presence of other predators in the area, allowing the dog to eat quicker.
African Wild Dog Pups (source)
Only the dominant female will rear pups, more than likely as a safe guard against trying to rear more litters than the pack can provide for. A litter will consist of between two and twenty pups, the normal being ten.Pups are born in burrows dug and abandoned by other animals like the Aardvark and will remain in and around the den for about three months before leaving to run with the pack. Females leave their birth pack after about a year and go in search of a pack without a sexually mature female. They compete for access to males which is a bit different to other social animals where the males do the competing. Males will remain with their birth pack indefinitely.
These creatures rely on stamina and endurance when hunting. They can run for a long time, and when their prey tires, they tend to attack it as a pack, usually with one holding onto the tail and another the bottom lip of the prey animal. The rest will attack the belly and disembowel the animal. Because of this form of hunting, when Europeans first encountered the wild dogs they were horrified and wiped out whole packs of dogs.
African Safari Blog Link
Today there are very few wild dogs left and their future looks bleak to say the least. These dogs range over vast areas so conservation parks can't really provide for their needs. There are however still packs that are being looked after in places like Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
To see these animals in the wild and hear their birdlike chirping bark is a privilege not everyone is afforded. They are relatively comfortable around people and not really all that shy. You do sometimes see them on the roads when visiting places like the Kruger National Park in Eastern South Africa. Lovely looking animals with remarkable characteristics that make them stand out from the crowd.

12 comments:

  1. oh my goodness..this is so interesting to me! I would be nervous!

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  2. Hello Geoff, I think they are beautiful also and its sad that they are diminishing. I watched a documentary on TV about them a couple of days ago. It was so interesting. The pack goes off to hunt and then regurgitates the food up to feed the pups when they are old enough..Only the boss dog is allowed to give birth, and if another one in the pack does, then the boss takes the pups over.. Amazing. Love it.

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  3. They are beautiful animals and it's a shame that there's a shortage of them. Though if one approached me I 'd be shaking like a leaf! Julie

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  4. Hi Geoff, I didn't actually read this post - I've just come over from MOV's blog where you mentioned working in a sweets factory at one time. It was fun to read your feedback - and made me want more! Do you have any posts about your time in the factory? Sounded so fascinating... Thanks!

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  5. Thanks for the follow and feedback. I'll be watching for that post!

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  6. Absolutely amazing! I never heard of these type of dogs. Very interesting. I love visiting your blog to learn something new and fascinating!

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  7. Visiting from A/Z; so very fascinating about those dogs! I hadn't heard of them before; I do appreciate their loyalty to the pack! Enjoy the rest of the challenge; we are almost there!

    betty

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  8. What beautiful creatures and I love the explanation of their pack dynamics. So caring and so much humanity.

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  9. beautiful pics!

    I didn't know all that about african wild dogs.

    Sonia Lal @ Story Treasury

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  10. I've seen their hunting skill, but only on a documentary. I didn't realize their numbers had been so diminished. We are such a short-sighted species, aren't we?

    I read your comment at the Write Game today and fell in love with all the WOW Factors in your life. Thank you so much for stopping in to tell my readers about those beautiful events and critters.

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  11. I love these dogs. I hope they merit a national park or conservatory where they can live with protection.

    Mimi Torchia Boothby Watercolors

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  12. The last photo: Just because they show their teeth doesn't necessiarily mean they are smiling... ;)

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