Tender at the Bone

Well, Tender at the Bone is admittedly the title of a book about food (if you love food and good writing as much as I do, this is a fantastic book by food critic Ruth Reichl), but I borrowed the phrase to continue our discussion about dental health and chewing on bones. If you haven't followed it yet, read the comments from my A Fully Functional Tooth? post, they add lots of meat to the conversation (sorry). A few readers asked for more photos from Africa, so I thought I'd combine topics and send some more pictures of our time with the pack of African Wild Dogs. Relevant to dental health, here's a photo of the mouth of "Jones," the 4 year old breeding male who was darted and radio collared when we were there watching. What I think is interesting is how good some teeth look (keeping in Read More

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

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

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

Leave Tomorrow!

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Hard to imagine we're on our way to Africa tomorrow. Even though it's my fourth trip, going to Africa still seems like something I could only dream about, never really do. Of course, the only dreaming at this point is of things I might have forgotten, and worries about leaving the dogs and the sheep. It will be such a relief to finally be on the plane and let it all go. I think of trips like this as white water kayaking (not that I've ever done it!)... You prepare carefully and meticulously, then launch into the rapids and go with the flow. The most fun of the preparation has been reading up on the behavior of the animals we'll probably see. For example, I've been reading about the comparative social systems of Golden Jackals and Black-Backed Jackals (coyote-like canids, common in both Read More