When I think of depth I think of commitment. I think of sacrifice. I think of community, working together, leaving no one behind, having no quarrels amongst each other but a undying love instead. I think of The African Wild Dog.
A rare, vanishing species in East Africa, the wild dog is a highly intelligent and social animal. It is a long-legged creature with massive jaws and very large, erect batlike ears and although it resembles some domestic dogs, it differs in that it has four toes on each foot instead of five. The Latin name for the African Wild Dog means “painted Wolf,” which aptly describes the colorful coat of dark brown, black and yellow patches. Wild dogs have bushy tails with white tips that may serve as a flag to keep the pack in contact while hunting.
They live mostly in arid zones and in the savanna, They also are found in woodland and montane habits where their prey lives.
But these dogs take the etymology of loyal to a new level and have a way of living that just maybe we as humans could really benefit from.
African Wild Dogs, also referred to as African Hunting Dogs live in packs that are usually dominated by a monogamous breeding pair. The female has a litter of 2 to 20 pups, which are cared for by the entire pack. The packs generally consist of six to 20. If numbers fall below six, hunting efficiency is eroded. Their pups are born in a shelter of thick bush or grass, or in a hole.
African Wild Dogs hunt in formidable, cooperative packs of 6 to 20 (or more) animals. Larger packs were more common before the dogs became endangered. Packs hunt antelopes and will also tackle much larger prey such as wildebeasts, particularly if their quarry is ill or injured. The dogs supplement their diet with rodents and birds. As human settlements expand, the dogs have sometimes developed a taste for livestock, though significant damage is rare. Unfortunately, they are often hunted and killed by farmers who fear for their domestic animals generally unnecessarily. You see, African Wild Dogs, as I mentioned earlier, are very intelligent animals. They are quite aware that domesticated animals leave them susceptible to diseases which in turn lead to them being endangered.
When they hunt its in the early morning and again in late evening, strategically preying on gazelles and other antelopes, warthogs, wildebeests calves, rats and birds. They have a very well put together operation and never stay in one place too long when they hunt. They can cover a very large range some 900 square miles in the Serengeti. After a liter is born, however, they will limit their traveling and hunting to areas closer to the den just in case danger is near and they hear a call for help. They have a large range of vocalizations which include a short bark of a alarm, a rallying howl and a bell-like contact call that can be heard over long distances, and they can run long distances, at speeds up to about 35 miles per hour.
These dogs have been famously known for never leaving one behind and assisting weak or ill members including sharing their food. They return to the den where they regurgitate meat for the nursing female and pups. Although liters are very large, very few pups survive. Sometimes the dens are flooded, or pups die from exposure or disease. The entire pack is involved in the welfare of the pups; both males and females babysit the young and provide food for them. They have a very social hierarchy but unlike many other social animals, there is little obvious intimidation. They have elaborate greeting rituals, accompanied by twittering and whining. Social interactions are very common. They show lots of love by touch, actions and vocalizations. No two wild dogs are marked exactly the same, making it easy to identify different individuals.
Throughout Africa, wild dogs have been shot and poisoned by farmers, hunters and at one time by rangers. As the numbers of these wild dogs dwindle, they become more mysterious, elusive and enigmatic.It is really ironic yet quite seemingly normal in this world that something with so much depth and is being slowly wiped away.