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In Search of the African Wild Dog Hardcover – 1 Nov 2009
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Perhaps the most successful hunter in Africa, the African wild dog, Lycaon pictus, ironically finds itself on the brink of extinction.
Top customer reviews
Today there are only estimated 3,000 to 5,500 African Wild Dogs (THE PAINTED WOLF) left in whole of Africa. There low numbers are due to human encroachment and infections to the dogs by canine distemper, rabies and anthrax. They are also shot and poisoned. However, their slender frame and long legs are built for speed of nearly 60 km/hr. They use pace and stamina, rotating lead, to exhaust their prey. Their markings vary between black, white, tan with white tipped tails. 90% of wild dogs prey is the impala. Because of its genetic difference, it cannot breed with even the domestic dog. Adult dog can weigh between 26 - 28 kg. Each dog has its own distinctive colour pattern, and very large ears. A wild dog advisory group (WAG) is formed to introduce many small group of wild dogs in different locations. Average pack size is 10 dogs. Their success rate for a hunt is 80%. They hunt by sight. It is not a pretty site when the dogs eat their prey.
This book features wild dogs in South African Game Reserves and Kruger National Park. In the North is MADIKWE GAME RESERVE with its 2 packs of wild dogs. The smell of these wild dogs is unforgetable due to numerous scent glands. Next the authors go to HLUHLUWE IMFOLOZI PARK in the northern Kwazulu Natal. Today there are nearly 80 dogs in 10 packs here. Then moving to Northern TULI GAME RESERVE on the LIMPOPO river, where small packs of wild dogs were released. Anti-poaching patrols, education of local community and farmers and welcoming tourists , help to maintain these packs. KRUGER NATIONAL PARK has 180-450 wild dogs. In this large park, one needs to be lucky to see them. Kruger is home to the only genetically viable population of the wild dogs in South Africa. Packs occupy dens for upto 3 months and the weather can affect the breeding.
Apart from beautiful pictures and stories and history of African Wild Dogs, this book also advises on best places to stay in these South African reserves and parks. Other books on African Wild Dogs are:-
(1) Killers and Big Game, Napier 1966
(2) Innocent Killers, Hugo Van Lawick 1970
(3) Solo, Hugo Van Lawick 1976
(4) Running Wild, Ledger 1997
(5) African Wild Dog, Woodroffe 1997
(6) African Wild Dogs, Gentle 2001
(7) African Wild Dog, Murdoch 2002
(8) The African Wild Dog, Creel 2002
Having born in Kenya, I enjoyed reading this book.
Read and ENJOY.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The book is great
Roger and Pat de la Harpe's excellent book of one of the little known species in the world, which is on the brink of extinction, is not only a very informative and provocative read but also a book with exceptional insight into preservation and conservation on this planet. In Search of the African Wild Dog is a combination of wonderful photography coupled with well researched and well thought out text. The species of the African Wild Dog is hanging on to existence in the Northeastern area of South Africa, most prominently in the area of Kruger National Park. The animal has a bit of a hyena look to it because of the ears and some of the head features, but is clearly very different when the total body is viewed. My feeling from seeing the de la Harpe's pictures was that it was a large jackal with hyena ears. Their strange yellow, black, and white blotching of color is very unique. I had never known of the existence of these animals, which are known to be possibly the most successful hunters in Africa by those that have studied them and attempted to help preserve them. From the accounts given in the book, the reader finds this species to be one of the more interesting African animals. The methods of hunting as well as such things as their use of an old aardvark hole as a den to raise the pups and returning year after year to the same place are among the many features brought out by the authors. The book details the history of human encounters with the African Wild Dog from the early 1800s. It also goes into great detail about the present efforts to preserve the species as well as the efforts to reintroduce the animals back into areas where they once roamed by the group called The Wild Dog Advisory Group, which was formed with the purpose of establishing several small populations of wild dogs in different locations. The de la Harpe's give the reader in depth accounts of this with description combined with unbelievable photographs. First seeing the cover of this book might lead one to think it to be only a coffee table photo book, but it is what I believe to be a captivating read in understanding life on this planet and the need for preservation of any of the species that are in danger of extinction. (reviewed by bill neely for [...])
This book is a tour of the various wildlife parks and reserves (private and public) that shelter AWD in the country of South Africa. Conservationists there have taken up the idea of preserving multiple small populations rather than holding out for large populations. The idea is that you can still preserve genetic diversity by manually swapping dogs between the parks to simulate natural dispersal. Given that wild dogs can have enormous home ranges (20,000km per pack), this is perhaps the best solution.
The authors write about their adventures in each park as they try to find the dogs. What's really nice is that at the end of each park section, they include contact information for all the tourist operations that bring people to see the dogs. This is a vital recognition of the important economic help that eco-tourism can provide to conservation efforts.
Finally, of course, there are many pictures of AWD in this book. Simply put, they are some of the most beautiful images of AWD I've ever seen. From photos of the hunt to pups playing, the authors capture a wide range of different actions, expressions, ages, and individuals. The front cover is a good example of the quality of these images.
Overall, I can point out no flaws to this book other than I wish it had another hundred pages of beautiful pictures! If you like African Wild Dogs, if you like nature in general, or if you just want to support a critically endangered species, this book is a great purchase.