AFRICAN WILD DOG and Pup
©Chris Johns / National Geographic
Nose to nose, a curious youngster approaches an adult African wild dog.
The scientific name “Lycaon pictus” is derived from the Greek for “wolf” and the Latin for “painted”. It is the only canid species to lack dewclaws on the forelimbs.
Dominance is established without blood-shed, instead they form a hierarchy based on submission. Submission and nonaggression are emphasized heavily (even over food) they will beg energetically instead of fight. This may be in part as they raise large litters (10 is common) and as the loss of a single individual would mean that the hunting pack would be weaker and may not be able to provide for all the pack members.
Females move from their birth pack at 14–30 months of age and join other packs. Males typically do not leave their birth pack. This is unusual among social mammals, among which the core pack tends to consist of related females. African Wild Dog females compete for access to males that will help rear their offspring. In a typical pack, males outnumber females by a factor of two to one, and only the dominant female is usually able to rear pups. This may have evolved to ensure that packs do not over-extend themselves by attempting to rear too many litters at the same time.
The species is also unusual in that some members of the pack, including males, may be left to guard the pups whilst the others, including the mothers, join the hunting group. The practice of leaving adults behind to guard the pups may decrease hunting efficiency in smaller packs
Fact Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lycaon_pictus
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