Paul Udoto brings us the latest from the natural world
Golfing in the wild
The Kenya Wildlife Service has donated a herd of gazelles and zebras to Mt Kenya Holiday Homes in Naro Moru on the slopes of the mountain to boost private sector involvement in wildlife conservation. The holiday homes are one of Kenya’s largest golf resort facilities under development and combine wildlife and golfing.
Elephant baby boom
Everyone visiting Amboseli these days is struck by the number of elephant calves. A couple of years after the drought of 2009 ended, an unprecedented baby boom began. Forty-six calves were born at the end of 2011, 198 in 2012, 50 in 2013 and hundreds born throughout 2014. These calves have gone a long way in restoring family dynamics that were so heavily disrupted during the 2009 drought.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy, East Africa’s largest black rhino sanctuary is fighting poachers with a revolutionary conservation strategy via the introduction of multi-role dogs. Whilst dogs are not a new concept in Africa in the war against poaching, the use of multi-role dogs is. This approach is championed as being the most effective way forward in future anti-poaching measures. In Africa, dogs tend to be trained in one discipline: to patrol, apprehend or track. But the dogs being trained are capable of fulfilling all these roles; they are multi-skilled utility dogs proficient in patrol work, apprehension and tracking, including article searches and detection of narcotics, ivory or explosives.
Despite the name, Lycaon pictus is a distant relative of household canines. African wild dogs may share some similarities with domestic dogs, wolves and coyotes but they are different enough to be considered as a distinct genus. They are sometimes referred to as ‘painted wolves’ because of their colourful and variable coat patterns. Once so common in Africa that they were shot as vermin, the elusive canines are becoming synonomous with conservation: fewer than 7000 are left in Africa, their native range. Wild dogs are victims of their own wide-ranging behaviour – they wander so far that most reserves are too small to contain them. The African wild dog is endangered, due to habitat fragmentation, contact with human activity resulting in road casualties, poisoning, snaring, the spread of distemper from domestic dogs and competition for prey with other carnivores. Wild dogs have been shot and poisoned by farmers, who often blame them when a leopard or hyena kills livestock.