Agriculture
Treating peanut allergy bit by bit
Hungry bug seeks hot meal
Growing Healthier Tomato Plants
Amphibians
Tree Frogs
Newts
Salamanders and Newts
Animals
The Littlest Lemurs
Polly Shouldn't Get a Cracker
The Secret Lives of Grizzlies
Behavior
Listening to Birdsong
Two monkeys see a more colorful world
Meet your mysterious relative
Birds
Blue Jays
Pelicans
Dodos
Chemistry and Materials
Screaming for Ice Cream
The hottest soup in New York
Supergoo to the rescue
Computers
Galaxies on the go
Toxic Dirt + Avian Flu = Science Fair Success
Electronic Paper Turns a Page
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Dinosaur Dig
Downsized Dinosaurs
A Really Big (but Extinct) Rodent
E Learning Jamaica
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
Earth
Groundwater and the Water Cycle
Arctic Algae Show Climate Change
Deep History
Environment
Eating Up Foul Sewage Smells
Inspired by Nature
A Change in Leaf Color
Finding the Past
Oldest Writing in the New World
Childhood's Long History
A Long Haul
Fish
Mahi-Mahi
Tuna
Halibut
Food and Nutrition
How Super Are Superfruits?
In Search of the Perfect French Fry
Sponges' secret weapon
GSAT English Rules
Pronouns
Order of Adjectives
Whoever vs. Whomever
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
How are students placed after passing the GSAT exam
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
GSAT Scholarship
Access denied - Disabled boy aces GSAT
GSAT Mathematics
It's a Math World for Animals
Play for Science
Math and our number sense: PassGSAT.com
Human Body
Hey batter, wake up!
What the appendix is good for
Remembering Facts and Feelings
Invertebrates
Crabs
Centipedes
Spiders
Mammals
Humpback Whales
Chinchillas
Mouse
Parents
How children learn
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
Physics
Invisibility Ring
Extra Strings for New Sounds
Black Hole Journey
Plants
Fungus Hunt
City Trees Beat Country Trees
Cactus Goo for Clean Water
Reptiles
Turtles
Anacondas
Garter Snakes
Space and Astronomy
Planets on the Edge
Sun Flips Out to Flip-Flop
Pluto's New Moons
Technology and Engineering
Riding Sunlight
Young Scientists Take Flight
Reach for the Sky
The Parts of Speech
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
Adjectives and Adverbs
What is a Verb?
Transportation
Robots on a Rocky Road
Flying the Hyper Skies
Where rivers run uphill
Weather
Polar Ice Feels the Heat
Weekend Weather Really Is Different
Arctic Melt
Add your Article

Saving Africa's Wild Dogs

As a pack of wild dogs sets off to hunt for antelope and other prey around 5 a.m., Rasmussen follows in a Land Rover. Using a small computer, he records where the dogs go and what they do. Between about 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., the dogs rest, and so does Rasmussen. Then, the dogs go hunting again, and the biologist tags along. When the moon is full, the dogs like to hunt in the middle of the night, so Rasmussen sometimes gets little sleep. The biologist doesn't set up a tent because he has to be ready to take off at a moment's notice. So, he simply rolls out a mat on which he can snooze. He never knows when or where his workday will end. The painted dogs typically travel 30 miles a day, and they never sleep in the same place twice. Rasmussen spends up to 28 days at a time tracking and watching the brown, black, and tan-splotched dogs, which have big ears. No two look alike. It's heaven, absolute heaven," he says. "It's amazing following them." Rasmussen's goal is to learn everything that he can about painted dogs. He has also developed camps for kids and educational programs for adults to get local people involved in saving the animals from extinction. This effort may be exactly what the dogs need. Bad reputation A century ago, as many as 500,000 painted dogs lived throughout Africa. Today, scientists know of about 2,500 dogs that live in just four countries: South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. Perhaps 2,000 more are scattered across other parts of Africa. In recent times, thousands of dogs have been caught in traps or hit by cars. Prejudice is a major factor in their disappearance, too, Rasmussen says. Many people believe the dogs attack farm animals. Other people simply dislike them for no good reason. "A farmer's wife came up to me in Zimbabwe and said, 'Why do you study such horrible animals?'" Rasmussen says. "She was maybe 40 years old. By the time she was growing up, the dogs were already extinct in her area." To find out whether the dogs deserved such a bad reputation among farmers, Rasmussen followed the animals to see what they eat. He studied their excrement for evidence of livestock hair. He found no signs that painted dogs are a threat to livestock. "We exploded a number of myths," he says. "Farmers like to say [the dogs] are killing all their cows, but this was not true in any one of my studies." Admirable dogs People have no reason to fear the painted dogs. In fact, research shows that there is a lot to admire about them. Most animals, including primates, live in ranked groups. Individuals at the top of the hierarchy are bossy, and they get the most food. Painted dogs, on the other hand, depend on one another. Even though they live in packs led by one male and one female, each animal has an important role. The strong take care of the old and the sick. And they share food equally. "The whole system runs on cooperation," Rasmussen says. "They never fight. There are very few species that don't fight." Even dogs that would get teased if they were people get respect from their canine peers. Rasmussen remembers one male dog that always seemed to get lost. Nicknamed Magellan, the animal was a goofball. But when the pack had puppies, the other adults recruited him to babysit. The dogs have many good qualities, Rasmussen says. "It's easy for us to explain why we want to look after them." Pack survival One of Rasmussen's most important findings is that there is a "magic number" of individuals in a pack. In order for puppies to have a good chance of surviving, there must be at least five or six adults in a group. If a pack is smaller than that, losing one dog is like losing the thumb from your hand. Functioning becomes difficult. For this reason, Rasmussen and his coworkers focus their work on protecting the packs. Sometimes, he and his coworkers rescue injured dogs and nurse them back to health before returning them to their homes. The researchers also put radio collars on many dogs, especially ones that live outside of national parks. The receivers show the scientists where the animals are. Dog pictures Painted dogs can be hard to spot in the wild. Alison Nicholls, an artist based in New York, is one of the lucky ones. After seeing the striking creatures in Africa, she started painting them. Now, she uses her art to aid conservation. "A lot of people who have been to my exhibitions say, 'Oh, I love that painting,'" she says. "Then, they want to know more about the species and the country." When she sells dog paintings, Nicholls gives most of the profits to Rasmussen's Painted Dog Conservation Project. Next year, she hopes to get funding from the Worldwide Nature Artists Group to return to Zimbabwe to paint more dogs. With both art and science on their side, these animals may yet have a future in Africa.

Saving Africa's Wild Dogs
Saving Africa's Wild Dogs








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™