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African Wild Dog Facts


Alternative Name: Cape Hunting Dog

Latin Name: Lycaon pictus

Status: Endangered.

Lifespan: 12 years.

Weight: Both male and female 20kg to 25kg.

Habitat:
Wild dogs take preference to areas with few trees and short grass. They are found in savannah, woodland and grassland biomes, as well as hilly areas.

Diet and feeding:
Prey species include medium to small sized antelope such as waterbuck, impala, springbok and duiker as well as wildebeest and warthog.

Of all the large land predators, the wild dog is the most successful hunter with an average of 80% of its attempted hunts resulting in kills. Wild dogs hunt very efficiently as a pack and rely more on stamina than they do on strength and speed.

Once the prey has been targeted, the dogs then take turns in chasing after the animal at a fairly constant speed of 60 km/hour. The running prey is often forced into the direction of other members of the wild dog pack, who wait ahead to have their turn in chasing after the prey.

The hunted animal, exhausted from all the running slows down or stops, giving the wild dogs the opportunity to grab hold of it with their powerful jaws which they then use to tear off chunks of flesh resulting in the prey dying from loss of blood and shock.

Reproduction:
After a successful copulation the female has a two-and-half-month gestation period. The pups are born underground, usually in old abandoned aardvark burrows. The average litter size varies from 7 to 10 young, with as many as 20. The large litter sizes may be as a result of the very high mortality rate of wild dog pups due to various diseases contracted by domestic dogs and predation by lion, hyena and leopard.

The young suckle for roughly three months but are capable of feeding on meat at 2 to 3 weeks of age. After a successful hunt, the adults then return to the den to feed the young by regurgitating the meat.

Other interesting facts:

Wild dogs have very large home ranges, ranging from 200 square kilometres to over 1000 square kilometres.
Their home rangers may extend into farm areas where they are seen as a threat to life-stock and are often destroyed for this reason.

Wild dogs are highly endangered and many attempts in breeding projects have been unsuccessful with most puppies dying in captivity.

A sad fact is that at a certain stage in time, wild dogs were seen as brutal animals in the way that they hunted and how could such a cruel animal be left to live?, resulting in may of them being destroyed.

Interesting Facts about Baboons


Chacma baboon

Latin Name: Papio cynocephalus ursinus

Lifespan: Both males and females live up to 18 years.

Weight: Males 32kg, females 15kg.

Habitat:
Chacma Baboons are found throughout southern Africa, except in the very arid regions.

Diet and Feeding:
Baboons are omnivorous feeding on a variety of fruits, leaves, grasses, roots, tubers, tree gum, insects, spiders and scorpions. They will also hunt prey such as reptiles, birds and other mammals.

During the Impala (Aepyceros melampus) lambing season, Chacma baboons have been known to run in and snatch the new-born lambs to feed off them.

Reproduction:
Just below the tail, on the rump area are horny epidermal callosities. With females in oestrus, the callosities swell up substantially and serve as clear signal to the males of their breeding condition.

The dominant males herd and mate with the females in oestrus. The Alpha male does most of the mating.

Young males that have no dominant ranking within the troop have no mating rights. Mature females in most cases won’t give them the opportunity to mate unless the social bond between two is very strong. This type of mating is not tolerated by the dominant males and could prove very dangerous for the young male if caught in the act.

After a successful copulation from one male or a number of different males, the female then goes through a 6 month gestation period and gives birth to a single offspring. Females can give birth at any time of the year.

Youngsters are totally weaned from 6 to 8 months and share a very strong bond with their mothers. In the fist few weeks after birth the mother carries her baby in her hands and arms and as the baby grows it then holds onto its mother by the hair and hangs under her belly while walking. As the youngsters legs get stronger, it then moves onto the mothers back, using her raised tail as a back-rest.

Interesting Facts on the Chacma Baboon:

The canines of a mature Chacma baboon are longer than those of the lion.

Leopard will often hunt baboons, but young and inexperienced leopard can be killed by baboons when mobbed and bitten from different directions by a number of large dominant male baboons.

Young Vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops) and baboons will on occasion play together, but as adults baboons will hunt Vervet monkeys.

Nile Crocodile Facts

Latin name: Crocodylus nioloticus

Lifespan: 80 - 100 years, seldom more.

Length and weight:
Mature Nile crocodiles average 4 to 5 meters in length with exceptionally large specimens reaching 6 meters. Large adults can weigh over 1000 kg.

Habitat:
Crocodiles are found in most game reserves throughout Africa, taking preference to rivers, lakes and wetlands.

Diet and Feeding:
Their diet varies quite considerably depending on its age or size. Hatchlings prey mainly on insects, frogs, small fish and crabs. As they grow larger they then start preying off larger fish like catfish as well as birds.

Adults over 3 meters in length prey on birds, fish, various antelope species, monitor lizards, snakes, other predators including lions, leopards, hyenas, wild dogs as well as other crocodiles.

Crocodiles are opportunistic predators and help clean water sources by feeding off any carrion they may find.

Animals caught by crocodiles are normally dragged under water, causing suffocation. Larger prey species, too large to be dragged under water often die from a loss of blood and shock as a result of a number of different crocodiles gripping and tearing off flesh at the same time.
When feeding off large prey, the crocodile, using its powerful jaws and gripping teeth, thrashes the prey around until small enough pieces to swallow are torn off.

Crocodiles feeding on the same animal under water grab hold of the prey with a tight grip and then spin their bodies in order to break pieces of flesh off.

Reproduction:
Nile crocodiles are sexually mature at about 12 – 14 years. Fertilization is internal with mating taking place in the water.

When the female is ready to lay eggs, she then looks for a suitable nest site with sufficient cover.
A hole is excavated in a sand bank above the flood-line and after depositing a clutch of between 20 and 80 eggs she then fills the hole up with sand again.

The female is highly protective over her nest and defends the eggs from being eaten by predators such as monitor lizards, water mongoose, baboons and monkeys. During this period she does not eat but will on occasion drink water.

The eggs incubate for 3 months and on hatching the young make high-pitched cheeping sounds, which attracts the mothers’ attention to the nest.
The female then digs open the nest and using her jaws, she gently cracks open any unhatched eggs, once done she then carefully carries the hatchlings in her mouth to the river. The young crocodiles stay with their mother for about 2 months before leaving on their own.

Only 2% of crocodiles reach full maturity as a result of being preyed on by monitor lizards, water mongoose, catfish and birds of prey.

Black Rhino Facts

Alternative Name: Hook-lipped Rhinoceros

Latin Name: Diceros bicornis

Status: Endangered

Lifespan: 40 years

Weight:
Both male and female adults average from 800 to 850 kg, with large adults reaching up to 1000 kg.

Habitat:
Black Rhinoceros are found in dry arid areas as well as savannah and woodland areas with sufficient shrubs and trees to hide in, in the heat of the day.

Food:
Black rhino are browsers, feeding off a wide variety of shrubs and trees. Toxic plants such as the Tamboti Spirostachys africana with its high latex content are also eaten, having no harmful effects on the animal.

The black rhino has a very prehensile upper lip that is used to pull off leaves, shoots and thin branches while feeding.

Reproduction:
Breeding takes place at any time of the year. The female can conceive her first calf at 7 to 8 years of age. A bull will ascertain if a cow is in oestrus by taste-testing the females’ urine otherwise known as “flehmen”.
After a successful copulation, the female has a gestation period of 15 months and gives birth to a calf weighing in at about 40 kg.

The calf suckles off the mother for 12 – 13 months and is fully weaned at 14 months. When the cow is ready to give birth to her next calf, she then chases the older calf away to be on its own or temporarily join up with other adults or youngsters in the area. The calf is usually chased away at 2 to 4 years of age.

Notes:
Black Rhinos do not defend territories but do have home ranges in variable size that they scent-mark in. The bull scent-marks by either spraying urine onto vegetation or by defecating in certain spots called middens. Middens, which vary in number, are large collections of dung left by one bull or a number of different adults over a period of time. The bull after dropping his dung scrapes it into the ground with his hind legs and then spreads the dung further by dragging his feet as he walks away from the midden. Dung stuck under the bulls’ feet helps to further spread his scent as his walks through the area.
The purpose of a midden is to possibly convey information to other adults in the area by the different smells left in the midden.

The black rhinoceros has very weak eyesight but to compensate for that it has a very keen sense of smell and good hearing.

Of the two species of rhino found in Africa, the black rhino is the far more aggressive species. There are however fewer incidents of black rhino injuring or killing people, owing to its much lower population.

The white rhino having a higher population results in more frequent encounters with humans and although not considered as dangerous, accidents have been recorded.