Daily Bread for 7.2.22: The Journey of African Wild Dogs

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of 85. Sunrise is 5:21 AM and sunset 8:36 PM for 15h 15m 32s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 10.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Independence holiday events continue at the Cravath Lakefront (a car show, live music, and fireworks).

On this day in 1966,  Surveyor 1 lands in Oceanus Procellarum on the Moon, becoming the first U.S. spacecraft to soft-land on another world.

Animals sometimes travel large distances, greater than many people travel. Natalie Angier reports on The Incredible Journey of Three African Wild Dogs (‘Three sisters braved lions, crocodiles, poachers, raging rivers and other dangers on a 1,300-mile transnational effort to forge a new dynasty’). The story in the New York Times is open for anyone (not merely subscribers) to read. Here’s an excerpt, full story at the link:

The three sisters knew they had to leave home. They were African wild dogs, elite predators of the sub-Saharan region and among the most endangered mammals on Earth. At 3 years old, they were in the prime of their vigor, ferocity and buoyant, pencil-limbed indifference to gravity. If they did not seize the chance to trade the security of their birth pack for new opportunities elsewhere, they might well die as they had lived: as subordinate, self-sacrificing maiden aunts with no offspring of their own.

And so, in October of last year, the sisters set forth on the longest and most harrowing odyssey ever recorded for Lycaon pictus, a carnivore already known as a wide-ranging wanderer. Over the next nine months, the dogs traveled some 1,300 miles, which, according to the scientists who tagged them, is more than twice the previous record for the species. They lit out from their natal home range in the Luangwa Valley in eastern Zambia, crisscrossed Zambia and parts of Mozambique, skirted the edge of Zimbabwe and finally made their way back into central Zambia and settled in Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia, where evidence suggests they remain to this day.

They navigated woodlands, grasslands, scrublands, farmlands, scrambled over steep escarpments, skittered down mud-slicked gorges and traversed the legendary East African Rift three times. They dodged traffic on busy village roads, tiptoed past lions, humans and other enemies and competitors, and crossed roiling waters that teemed with crocodiles.

They were tracked on their peregrinations by Scott Creel, an ecologist at Montana State University, and his colleagues at the Zambian Carnivore Program, who had outfitted one of the sisters with a GPS collar. That dog, known with affectionate formality as EWD 1355, became the central protagonist. And although at any given point the researchers could be sure only of her location, wild dogs are so dependent on one another and so averse to solitude that the sisters probably stuck together for the entire expedition. Their next order of business, the researchers believe, is to start a new pack of their own.

See also Wild Dogs Sneeze to Hunt (African wild dogs, highly social pack hunters, need a consensus to start a hunt. The votes, of sorts, may be cast by sneezing):

Planets, Sirius, and a ‘teapot’ leads to Milky Way’s core in July 2022 skywatching:

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