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The incredible journey of three African wild dogs

by YAR

But the dogs’ small size puts them at a serious disadvantage, and a single 420-pound male lion can easily step in and claim a pack’s fresh catch as his own. Spotted hyenas will also follow wild dogs on the hunt, and if more than two or three are playing pirate, they will likely prevail over loot. African wild dogs have evolved to be inconspicuous, communicating on twitters best picked up by wild dog ears and staying away from places where lions and hyenas, and now humans, abound. After five million years of competing with larger carnivores, “they are preadapted to move across difficult landscapes,” said Dr. Creel.

A mad dash east through unprotected land to reach the Luangwa River. Really? Swim through it again, at the height of flood season? Shut up and start rowing.

If you think crocodiles are bad, try trucks. The sisters arrive at the Great East Road, the busy main artery that connects Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, with Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. Presumably, after looking both ways, the dogs run across the four-lane highway. They then make their way through a belt of towns and farms. Most likely, Mwape said, “nobody even knew they were there.”

Time for another passport stamp: Team 1355 enters Mozambique.

Dr. Creel and his colleagues are concerned. For two weeks, the dogs have barely moved, and when they have moved, they seem fickle, directionless. Scientists fear the worst: EWD 1355 was injured – from a trap, a fight, a fall.

The investigators breathe a sigh of relief as the dogs pick up speed again, leaving the settlement area and heading southeast along rugged, uninhabited terrain.

A few kilometers from the border crossing of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia, the dogs face each other once again and ford the Luangwa River. They returned to their home country of Zambia and headed towards the Lower Zambezi National Park, possibly attracted by the rich, musky scent of a resident pack of 29 wild dogs. Zambezi dogs are famous for having mastered the art of hunting African buffalo, huge and aggressive bovids that few wild dogs dare to approach.

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