Hot off the press from the Oklahoma City Zoo…a litter of endangered African Wild Dogs, also known as African Painted Dogs, has been born.
The birth mother, Xena, is only three years old and inexperienced. It became clear to the keepers that the puppies needed a surrogate mother. Enter Lilly, a special Golden Retriever with maternal skills.
“Even though Lilly’s not an African wild dog, she’s still much better suited to surrogate for our pups than humans would be,” said Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Jennifer D’Agostino. “This is a positive for both Lilly’s offspring and the African wild dogs as they will benefit from initial socialization with a canine species.”
This is an example of yet another way to use dogs for work – helping to save an endangered species.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand
Africa’s endangered wild dogs are very clever: no traditional fence can keep them out. A doctoral researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Craig R. Jackson, has explored ways to save the species.
Photo by Craig R. Jackson
African wild dogs are a distinct species that cannot inter-breed with other dogs. The populations of these dogs were in good shape until a few decades ago. In the middle of the last century, there were 500,000 of them in 39 countries. But the species is in decline across nearly its entire range south of the Sahara. Today there are somewhere between 3000 and 5500 left, in fewer than 25 countries. That’s roughly one per cent remaining – and that’s the best case scenario.
Wild dog packs are loath to intrude into the territories of other packs. These territories are defined by urine scent trails. So the researchers and their colleagues collected sand that had been sprayed with urine by wild dogs and moved it near to other packs to keep them inside a certain area – with success.
The use of the scent markings helps to keep wild dogs out of areas where they think there are other dog packs. But, collection of the urine needed for the scent trails is a problem. So the next step is re-creating the urine artificially.
The conclusion of the thesis: urine may be the best bet for saving the African wild dog population; that urine may have to be artificially produced.
Source: NTNU media release