TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -Last summer, not long after releasing a pioneer pack of 13 African wild dogs into Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park as part of an ambitious wildlife restoration effort, Paola Bouley went to see for herself what in the name of Canis major could have happened to the wild dog pups.
As Gorongosa’s carnivore expert, Ms. Bouley knew that Beira, the alpha female of the pack, had been pregnant when the dogs were set free. She knew that the closely bonded and highly endangered apex predators had dug a maternity den for their queen, and that Beira had spent a lot of time down there — until one day, she didn’t. She and the pack had moved on.
But where were the pups?
As Ms. Bouley was crouching by the abandoned den and peering into the hole, she met the likely answer. A giant African rock python — the continent’s largest species of snake — dropped from a nearby tree, stared her in the face and then slithered off.
“I think it was disappointed that I wasn’t a warthog,” Ms. Bouley said.
For a snake that can grow to 20 feet and swallow an impala whole, even a large litter of Lycaon pictus pups would barely rate as an amuse-bouche.