With only 5,000 surviving, the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) is one of the world's most endangered large carnivores--and one of the most remarkable. This comprehensive portrait of wild dogs incorporates previously scattered information with important new findings from a six-year study in Tanzania's Selous Game Reserve, Africa's largest protected area.
The book emphasizes ecology, concentrating on why wild dogs fare poorly in protected areas that maintain healthy populations of lions, hyenas, or other top carnivores. In addition to conservation issues, it covers fascinating aspects of wild dog behavior and social evolution. The Creels use demographic, behavioral, endocrine, and genetic approaches to examine how and why nonbreeding pack mates help breeding pairs raise their litters. They also present the largest data set ever collected on mammalian predator-prey interactions and the evolution of cooperative hunting, allowing them to account for wild dogs' prowess as hunters.
By using a large sample size and sophisticated analytical tools, the authors step well beyond previous research. Their results include some surprises that will cause even specialists to rethink certain propositions, such as the idea that wild dogs are unusually vulnerable to infectious disease. Several findings apply broadly to the management of other protected areas.
Of clear appeal to ecologists studying predation and cooperation in any population, this book collects and expands a cache of information useful to anyone studying conservation as well as to amateurs intrigued by the once-maligned but extraordinary wild dog.