Monday, May 14, 2012

Wild at Heart: The African Wild Dog

Over the next two weeks, I will be bringing you previews of the work that will be exhibited at May 26th's "Wild at Heart: Keep Wildlife in the Wild," the endangered species benefit that Andrew Hosner and I are co-curating at Thinkspace. 20% of the proceeds of the show will go to Born Free USA to help threatened wildlife. Hope to see you there!

Jason Thielke "African Wild Dog"

The African Wild Dog or Painted Hunting Dog was once common in virtually every environment in southern Africa, and ranged widely in huge packs. Efficient hunters capable of coordinated teamwork, wild dogs can bring down large prey such as ostriches, zebras and warthogs. Because of land clearance and urbanization, Africa's once-great herds of grazing animals are now restricted to scattered populations contained in parks and reserves. Most of Africa’s parks are too small for a wild dog pack, so the dogs must leave that relative safety and range into unprotected areas. A century ago, packs of a hundred or more dogs could be seen roaming the Serengeti Plains. Today, pack size averages about 10, and the species’ total wild population is less than 5,500.

In many areas, the wild dogs are regarded as pests — they've been poisoned, shot, and trapped. Perhaps their most serious threat, however, is introduced diseases. Burgeoning human populations have brought the wild dogs into frequent contact with domestic dogs, many of which carry canine distemper and rabies.

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