Comparative Canid Behavior

This summary doesn't begin to address the subject in depth, to do so would require a book, but I hope you'll find what I've written interesting nonetheless. My biggest problem with this was not spending all week on it... the topic is so interesting, and almost every fact led to a question. (Territorial? Well, that's a highly variable concept. How does it differ between species, say dogs and wolves for example.) You can see the problem here, but one of the great things about science is that it every answer generates new questions. That's heaven for discovery junkies like me. AFRICAN WILD DOGS  Lycaon pictus: Also known as Cape Hunting Dogs or Painted Dogs, these canids are not "dogs" at all (note they are in a different genus than wolves and dogs). Called the wolves of Africa, they Read More

Be Glad Our Cats are Small

I'm working on a post about the comparative behavior of wolves, coyotes, African Wild dogs and domestic dogs, but here's a short digression for the cat lovers. An adult lioness in the Maasai Mara marks a bush after rising from a nap. You can clearly see the stream of urine in the photo. Aren't you glad our house cats don't weigh 260-450 pounds? A female cheetah marks a tree. We found this cheetah right after landing in the "Kenyan Serengeti," the Maasai Mara. After we landed at a tiny airstrip and loaded up in safari vans on our way to our lodging, we ran into a hunting cheetah who was stalking Impala. After a few minutes she made her move, and dashed at the herd. She was too far away for us to take any photographs, but none of us will ever forget watching one Impala leap over five Read More

The Illustrated African Wild Dog Story

As you know if you've been following the blog, 1/2 the folks who went to Kenya continued on to Botswana. We all knew that seeing Wild Dogs wasn't a guarantee, but we had high hopes because we were going where and when our chances were highest. (And no, in response to one comment, there are no [African] Wild Dogs in the states, we're talking another species here, see photos below.) We stayed at Chitabe Camp in the Okavango Delta, owned and run by Helene Heldring and David Hamman, and very close to the research station of Tico McNutt, who has been studied AWDs for over twenty years. We knew that he had radio collars on most of the packs in the area, and we knew that it was still denning season, meaning that the adults tended to stay put more than usual. Still, as an experienced naturalist Read More

Gnus from Africa (sorry)

THIS WAS WRITTEN on August 11th, but not posted til now. So don't get confused, it's out of order! In transition, 10 minute to write. in nairobi between tent camp on edge of maasai mara in masai village and flights either to home or to So Africa for those of us going on to Botswana.  Trip amazing, too much to process while it is happening. Picture: The ultimate 'hard eye' from a lioness 10 ft from YOU while she walks by your van with her cubs. A leopard getting beat out over a kill by a lion. Streams of wildebeest drawing lines across the vast and open mara, always led by zebra. Elegant and yet adorably cute Thompson's gazelles switching their tails in time to the bumps in the road. More dust in your hair than you can ever imagine getting out. Talking to young maasai warriors about Read More

African Wild Dogs YES!

Back in the Jo'berg airport again, but this time after having spent two days in the Okavango Delta at Chitabe Tent Camp. 1/2 of us arrived 1 1/2 days late, having barely made it when our last flight was delayed and the sun's descent meant we might not be able to take the small plane to the isolated camp: couldn't land after dark. But we squeaked in, blank eyed and exhausted and then spent two days in heaven.  We not only saw AWD's, we were able to be with Tico when he radio collared "Jones," the dominant breeding male of a pack about two 1/2 hours away from the camp. The group that arrived on time spent 5 hours one afternoon/evening and 14 hours with  Tico and his radio transmitter trying to find the pack, which they found late the afternoon the rest of us arrived. We left early the next Read More