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Smaller Mammals Archives

Female Spotted Hyena with Male-like Genitals

Female Spotted Hyena with penis-like genitals
Photo Details: Female Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) showing the unusual and male-like genitals, Mashatu Game Reserve, Tuli Block, Botswana.



Camera: Canon EOS 400D (Canon Rebel XS 10.1MP); Lens: Canon 70-300 F4-5.6 IS USM; Focal Length: 90mm; Shutter speed: 1/30; Aperture: f8; ISO: 400.



Additional Info: One of the many myths about African wildlife is that hyenas are hermaphrodites (having some or all of the primary sex characteristics of both genders).



The origins of this misconception are based on appearance and behavior – female spotted hyenas look like they have male genitalia, are bigger and more agressive than males, and have equally high testosterone levels.



But it is nevertheless a myth, as male hyenas cannot conceive or have babies, and females cannot sire them. To find out more about spotted hyenas and their female-dominated social hierarchy, read conservationist Roddy Smith’s article, Female Spotted Hyenas Burdened with Hermaphrodite Myth.

African Wild Dog

African wild dog

Photo Details: African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) lying in dappled shade in late afternoon, Mashatu Game Reserve, Tuli Block, Botswana.

Camera: Canon EOS 450D (Canon Rebel XSi 12.2MP); Lens: Canon EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM; Focal Length: 140mm; Shutter speed: 1/100; Aperture: f8; ISO: 400; 29 May 2009, 4.20pm.

Additional Info: A pack of 18 wild dogs was re-introduced into the Tuli Block in the eastern corner of Botswana in November 2007. Although wild dogs are known to travel across vast distances, I have been fortunate to see the Tuli pack on two visits to Mashatu Game Reserve. Even though the weather wasn’t too kind on one occasion and on another the pack only appeared at dusk, making photography difficult, at least our party was able to enjoy the sightings of these rare and endangered animals and get some pictures.

This has enabled me to add a gallery of wild dog pictures to the main website, something I’ve been wanting to do for some time. Wild dog numbers have declined alarmingly in recent years through habitat loss and hunting and I feel lucky that I’ve been able to watch and photograph the Tuli pack – they may well have moved far away by the time I get there again.

Zebra Trio

Zebra Trio

Photo Details: Trio of Zebras (Equus quagga) partially lit by the slanting rays of late afternoon sunlight, Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana.

Camera: Canon EOS 450D (Canon Rebel XSi 12.2MP); Lens: Canon EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM; Focal Length: 225mm; Shutter speed: 1/80; Aperture: f8; ISO: 400; 30 May 2009, 5.15pm.

Book Review: Recently I wrote about Elephant Reflections, the book by Karl Ammann and Dale Peterson I’d started reading. Well, I’ve now finished reading the text by Peterson, gone back to pore over Ammann’s photographs, and had a chance to write a review of the book. This is much more than a pretty coffee-table book and deserves to be read as it contains an important message about elephants and their long-term survival.

The photographs also deserve to be studied and enjoyed, but this should only be done after first reading Peterson’s text. In my write-up I’ve been less enthusiastic about the photographs than have other reviewers, but maybe that’s because I’m looking at the pictures through the eyes of a photographer. It’s also probable that I was simply expecting too much and have become spoilt by constantly looking at images made by many of the world’s best wildlife photographers. In any event, you’re welcome to read my Elephant Reflections Review and certainly encouraged to buy the book, which is available for around $26 from Amazon.

Black-Backed Jackal on the Move

Black-backed jackal

Photo Details: A black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas) trotting through golden-orange winter vegetation, Mashatu Game Reserve, Tuli Block, Botswana. See also a previous post titled Jackal Pair for more about these canids and their social structure.

Camera: Canon EOS 450D (Canon Rebel XSi 12.2MP); Lens: Canon EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM; Focal Length: 300mm; Shutter speed: 1/30; Aperture: f16; ISO: 400; Date: 30 May 2009, 7.12am

Wild Dogs on Banks of Limpopo

Wild Dogs at play

Photo Details: African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) romping on the banks of the Limpopo River at dusk, Mashatu Game Reserve, Tuli Block, Botswana.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D (Canon Rebel XS 10.1MP); Lens: Canon EOS 80-200 F2.8 zoom; Focal Length: 200mm; Shutter speed: 1/60; Aperture: f2.8; ISO: 800.

Additional Info: The African wild dogs in Botswana’s Tuli Block are not roaming as extensively as usual while the pack waits for the heavily pregnant alpha female to give birth. In preparation for the arrival of the pups, the dogs have established a den close to where we were staying at Rock Camp in Mashatu Game Reserve. On our first afternoon in the reserve, we set off on a late game drive and were fortunate to find the pack on the banks of the nearby Limpopo River.

Once the alpha female produces her litter (usually from six to 16 pups), the whole pack will help feed the suckling mother (and the pups after 3-4 weeks) by regurgitating food. See Wild Dog Society – All About Co-Operation for more about the social behavior of these much maligned and critically endangered animals.

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