What happened to African wild dogs in Serengeti?

After African dogs (Lycaon pictus)suddenly disappeared in Serengeti National Park in 1991, wildlifers and biologists wondered why, and disagreements among scientists ensued. One researcher, Roger Burrows, came up with a controversial hypothesis that researchers were the reason for their disappearance due to stress from radio collars immobilization of the animals. He argued this stress on their immune systems allowed rabies to kill them. Many disagreed with this hypothesis, saying the wild dog population simply went missing from the park, not from the larger region, likely as a result of lions and hyenas. A new study delves deeper into reasons why the “Burrows hypothesis” may not be true, and shows why the real stress was likely these larger predators that often scare wild dogs away from their food.

Read the study in Ecology and Evolution.


Header Image: In 1991, wild dogs suddenly vanished from Serengeti National Park.
©Per Harald Olsen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology