Search of the African Wild Dog
the most successful hunter in Africa, the African wild dog, Lycaon
pictus, ironically finds itself on the brink of extinction. Part of the
Canidae family, and sharing a general similarity with the various
canids worldwide, the African wild dog differs fundamentally from other
canids: it belongs to the genus, Lycaon, which formed a new branch on
the family tree some 3 million years back and subsequently evolved
independently. Today it is the only survivor of this unique line and,
because of its genetic difference, is unable to interbreed with any of
its canid relatives or even with the domestic dog. Previously found in
diverse habitats across the continent, it has tragically disappeared
from much of its former range. Today there are only an estimated 3 000
to 5 500 wild dogs left in the whole of Africa, a mere 500 of which
occur in South Africa.
of the African Wild Dog is a stunningly photographed and
well-documented tribute to these rare and endangered animals, covering
their history, biology, distribution, habitat, and breeding and release
programmes. In spite of, or perhaps because of, the elusive nature of
the wild dogs and their limited population numbers, Roger and Pat de la
Harpe have produced their best book yet.
Size: 265 mm x 265 mm
ISBN 13: 9781920289003
160 pages with 200 colour photographs
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The book begins...
stirred into life in 2000 when Jan Fourie, an Executive Director of
Sasol at the time, approached us to write about "their dogs". After
discussion we established that he was referring to the two wild dog
packs that had been released into the Madikwe Game Reserve in 1995 and
1997, with the help of a sponsorship from his organisation. On both
occasions the packs had been quite unique in that they were made up of
a combination of captive-bred and wild-caught members, which had not
been attempted before and which proved to be a great success.
Furthermore the captive-bred dogs had come from the De Wildt Cheetah
and Wildlife Centre, which has a long association with Sasol and has
over the years played a huge educational role in helping to dispel the
generally negative perceptions that people have of the wild dog.
Once we had
research however, it became obvious that to tell the De Wildt/ Madikwe
story it would be necessary to extend it to include other conservation
areas that subscribe to the concept of a wild dog metapopulation, which
involves the translocation of dogs between different reserves to
simulate their natural dispersal and prevent inbreeding. The Kruger
National Park, home to the only genetically viable group of wild dogs
left in South Africa, is essential to the story as is the vast area of
private game reserves on the park’s unfenced western
boundary, which often plays host to some of the Kruger packs. And so it
was that we embarked on a journey, which was as emotional as it was
physical, that criss-crossed the country from the arid northern regions
of Limpopo Province to the sub-tropics of KwaZulu-Natal, in an
ever-widening search for these most elusive of creatures.
We are proud
to have been associated with the organisations below and are greatful
for the assistance they have given us.