Painted Dog

General Description:

The African Painted Dog is a slender, long-legged carnivore with large round ears.  They have a body length of 120 cm (3.9 feet).  Their coats are blotched with orange-yellow, brown, and black with white throats.  They are highly social animal, living in packs with separate dominance hierarchies for males and females.  

The species is a specialized diurnal hunter of antelope, which it catches by chasing them to exhaustion. They regurgitate food for its young, but this action is also extended to adults. It has few natural predators, though lions are a major source of mortality, and spotted hyenas are frequent kleptoparasites.

Their population is currently estimated at approximately 6,600 adults in 39 subpopulations, of which only 1,400 are mature individuals. Population size is continuing to decline because of ongoing habitat fragmentation, conflict with human activities, and infectious disease.

Diet:

They hunt by approaching prey silently then chasing it in a pursuit at 66 km/h (41 mph) for 10 to 60 minutes. The average chase typically only goes as far as 2 km (1.2 mile), during which time the prey animal is repeatedly bitten until it stops running, smaller prey is simply pulled down and torn apart. Small prey is eaten entirely, while large animals are stripped of their meat and organs, with the skin, head and skeleton left intact. The African wild dog is a fast eater with a consumption rate of 1.2–5.9 kg (2.6-13 lbs.) per African wild dog a day. 

Behavior:

Wild dogs live in packs of six to 20. The dogs have a rather playful ceremony that bonds them for a common purpose and initiates each hunt. They start the hunt in an organised, cooperative manner. When prey is targeted, some of the dogs run close to the animal, while others follow behind, taking over when the leader is tired. They are the most efficient hunters.   They have elaborated greeting rituals, accompanied by twittering and whining. Their large range of vocalisations includes a short bark of alarm, a rallying howl and a bell-like contact call that can be heard over long distances.

Reproduction:

Mating Season: Throughout the year peaking between March-June.
Gestation: Around 70 days.
Litter size: 2-19 pups.

Pups are usually born in an abandoned den.  Only the alpha female breeds.  Weaning starts at 2 weeks and is completed at 10 weeks.

Fast facts:

  • Height:  75 cm (2.4 feet)
    Weight: 20-36 kg (44-79 lbs.) 
  • Speed: 66 km/h (41 mph) 
  • Lifespan: 10-12 years

Did you know?

  • The African Wild Dog is listed as Endangered.
  • The African Wild Dog is also known as Painted Hunting Dog or Cape Hunting Dog. 
  • No two wild dpgs are marked the same.  
  • No two wild dogs are marked exactly the same, making it easy to identify different individuals. 
  • Wild dogs are usually on the move in their range except when there is a litter born, then they will limit their travelling. 

From Fruit to Marmalade

In the blog about our Vegetable garden, we mentioned our Cumquat and Calamondin trees. Well, these trees have born so much fruit, during our harvest we started thinking on different ways to preserve this little citrus yumminess. We also learned that one can freeze the fruit for later use, thaw the day before and use it. They are fondly referred to as our Citrus Duo here at ChaZen.

More about the Kumquat – A kumquat isn’t much bigger than a grape, yet this bite-sized fruit fills your mouth with a big burst of sweet-tart citrus flavor. In contrast with other citrus fruits, the peel of the kumquat is sweet and edible, while the juicy flesh is tart.

And more about Calamondins – The Calamondins are small, tart fruits that are a cross between a sour, loose skinned mandarin and kumquat, and the size of a very small round lime (usually 25–35 mm (0.98–1.38 in) in diameter). The thin skin is smooth with many small, prominent oil glands and the flesh is orange, juicy, soft, speckled with many small, seeds.

This Citrus Duo is especially notable for its rich supply of Vitamin C and fiber. You get more fiber in a serving of them than most other fresh fruits ( USDA Food Composition Databases – Governmental authority). They also supply smaller amounts of several B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, and zinc. The edible seeds and the peel provide a small amount of omega-3 fats. As with other fresh fruits, they are very hydrating. About 80% of their weight is from water. 

The high water and fiber content of this Citrus Duo makes them a filling food, yet they’re relatively low in calories. This makes them a great snack when you’re watching your weight.

We defrosted the harvest of 20 kg (44 lbs.) of fruits and decided on making some preserves like Marmalade and Chutney out of the fruit. We first started making marmalade which is great on Ciabatta toast.

From the ChaZen Bistro – Recipe for Cumquat Marmalade

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups Chopped Citrus fruit with the skin on, but seeds removed
  • 3 cups of water (depending on the juice content of the fruit, you may need to add less water)
  • 1 cup 100 % Orange juice
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup brown sugar

Method:

  1. Place the chopped fruit in a large stewing pot.
  2. Add the water, orange juice, and lemon juice.
  3. Bring to a quick boil. Turn down the heat, add the sugar and simmer for 1 hour, uncovered.
  4. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking.
  5. If the peel is not tender in 1 hour, continue to simmer until tender.
  6. Let the mixture cool down and let sit for 18 hours in a cool room or fridge.
  7. Sterilize your canning jars.
  8. Heat the marmalade mixture until hot.
  9. Remove from heat and ladle hot marmalade into hot jars leaving ¼ inch headspace.
  10. Place on the tops and process with the Boiling Water Method for 10 minutes. (https://pickyourown.org/water_bath_canning_directions.php).  

Store and enjoy this citrus yumminess.

African Civet

We are delighted to share this information about the African Civet with you. Because of their rarity and generally very little known by the general public we have decided to help improve their number by adding them to our Ambassador Species at the Education Center. We have had successful breeding and releases on the reserve.

The African civet is a mammal that is closely related to weasels and mongooses. This animal is widely distributed in Sub-Saharan Africa (from Senegal in the west to Somalia on the eastern coast and Botswana and Namibia on the south). African civet inhabits all areas that provide enough water, food, and shelter. It usually lives in mountain and lowland forests, swamps and savannas. The African civet is threatened by habitat loss and deforestation.

They are mostly nocturnal mammals. Historically the African Civet has been the main species from which a musky scent used in perfumery was obtained.

General Description:

Civets have a broadly cat-like general appearance, though the muzzle is extended and often pointed, rather like that of an otter. They range in length from about 43 to 71 cm (17 to 28 in) (excluding their long tails) and in weight from about 1.4 to 4.5 kg (3 to 10 lbs.).

Both male and female civets produce the strong-smelling musk secretion, which is produced by the civet’s perineal glands.

Diet:

Civets are omnivores or even herbivores. Depending on the availability of food they will forage on different fruits, berries and around carrion for grubs.  Many species primarily eat fruit. Some also use flower nectar as a major source of energy.

Reproduction:

In captivity, the female is reproductively mature at around the age of one. It’s unknown whether this age is the same in the wild. Facts about reproduction have been discovered by observing captive animals.

Females are polyestrous, which means they can have more than one litter in a year. A female may give birth to two to three litters in the same year. Their gestation is between sixty to seventy days where after a litter of one to four cubs is born. The cubs are completely furred and are mostly black. The cubs can crawl immediately after being born. The mother has 6 nipples on which the cubs nurse for four to six weeks. They are completely weaned around fourteen to sixteen weeks. African civets can live for fifteen to twenty years in captivity.

From Garden To Table

From Garden to Table

It was one of our visions to have seasonal vegetables planted and use them directly from the garden to the table. We just haven’t had the time to do so, but with this pandemic lockdown, we decided it is the appropriate time to get this project off the ground (or rather in the ground).  

At our Educational Centre, we have beautiful gardens with plants like lavender, roses, and African daisies.  A couple of months ago we received small Mountain tortoises that were illegally destined for the pet trade.  We will rehabilitate and set them free on the reserve.  

By feeding these rescued tortoises, we placed in one of the flower beds as a temporary enclosure, a tomato plant came up and grew to a beautiful specimen.  We have harvested numerous delicious heirloom tomatoes from this plant, and it inspired us to convert this flower bed to a vegetable garden.  It is the perfect spot for planting vegetables as it is an east facing raised bed.  We transplanted most of the flowering plants to a new spot and kept the ornamental and delicious Cumquat and Calamondin trees.  

We have installed water harvesting tanks when the building was erected.  These tanks collect rainwater from the roofs, transported through gutters, and then the aid of the tanks in storing this water.  Each tank has a tap to which we can connect a hosepipe and water the flower and vegetable beds.  

After planting winter vegetables like brown onion, beetroot, celery, Portuguese cabbage, and frilly lettuces we added some parsley and African marigolds to aid in the control of possible bug visits.

Our approach is to grow everything as organically as possible. So, we are learning so much about companion planting and alternative ways of keeping unwanted creatures from the vegetables.

It has been 5 weeks from planting the seedlings and we have started enjoying the lettuce from the garden.  We realise the importance of food production, especially in these trying times, and am looking forward to repurposing more of the flower beds to vegetable gardens.  Nothing is as satisfying as to pick one’s own vegetables and enjoy them in the various dishes at our Bistro.