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Tag: africa

Researchers say they found birthplace of dog

firstdogs

A team of Swedish and Chinese researchers say they have pinpointed — at least more than it has been pinpointed up to now — the place where, 16,000 years ago, the wolf was tamed and evolved into the dog.

It was in China, on the southern shores of the Yangtze River, they say.

Their findings are contained in an article in the latest issue of scientific journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

“For the first time … it is possible to provide a detailed picture of the dog, with its birthplace, point in time, and how many wolves were tamed,” says Peter Savolainen, a biologist and member of the research team at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm.

Together with Swedish colleagues and a Chinese research team, Savolainen has made a number of new discoveries about the history of the dog — including the most specific date and birthplace yet offered.

“Our earlier findings from 2002 have not been fully accepted, but with our new data there will be greater acceptance. The picture provides much more detail,” says Savolainen.

Savolainen said the research indicates that the dog has a single geographic origin but descends from a large “large number of animals – at least several hundred tamed wolves, probable even more,” according to Science Daily.

The theory that the domestic dog originated in East Asia was challenged earlier this month by an international group of researchers who say African dogs are just as genetically diverse.

That research, based on analyzing blood samples from dogs in Egypt, Uganda and Namibia, shows the DNA of dogs in African villages is just as varied, indicating it could have been where wolves made the transition to become dogs.

(Photo: Science Daily press release)

Theory on origin of domestic dogs challenged

The theory that the domestic dog originated in East Asia has been challenged by an international group of researchers who say African dogs are just as genetically diverse.

The huge genetic diversity of dogs found in East Asia had led many scientists to conclude that it was where the domestication of the dog began.

But newly published research, based on analyzing blood samples from dogs in Egypt, Uganda and Namibia, shows the DNA of dogs in African villages is just as varied, according to the New York Times.

The research was originally aimed at tracking down a newly discovered “small gene” that led to wolves being downsized in their transition to dogs. Instead, as reported in the current issue of  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers found information they say calls into question where wolves were first domesticated.

Lead scientist, Adam Boyko of the Department of Biological Statistics and Computational Biology at Cornell University, says he decided to look at village dogs at least partly because his brother, an anthropologist as the University of California-Davis, was head there on a honeymoon. Also there are more mutts there — dogs more genetically diverse than bred dogs.

It’s the mutts that may hold the key to the learning the origins of dog domestication.

Read more »

Guard dogs protect sheep, save cheetah

Guard dogs that protect sheep and goats on African farms from attacks by cheetahs and leopards are also helping out the cheetahs and leopards.

With their livestock safe from attack, farmers no longer feel the need to hunt or poison cheetahs and leopards, according to a BBC report.

Anatolian Kangal dogs are used in the program, started in Namibia and recently launched in Kenya.

“We have had amazing results,” Laurie Marker of the Cheetah Conservation Fund said.  “Since the dogs were imported, the cheetah population had increased by a third.” 

Anatolian Kangal dogs are extremely loyal and are ready to fight to the death. The puppies are given to farmers when they are just eight weeks old and grow up with the flocks of goats and sheep they are to guard in order to bond with them.

If a predator approaches, the dogs bark loudly and the flock gathers round them. For most predators, the barking alone is enough to keep them from approaching.

The Conservation Trust began importing the Kangal from Turkey in 1994 and since then has provided around 300 dogs to farmers.

Dogs used as shark bait on island off Africa

Dogs — live and dead — are being used as shark bait on the French-controlled island of Reunion,  National Geographic reports.

The small volcanic island off Africa’s east coast is loaded with stray dogs — more than 150,000, says Reha Hutin, president of the Paris-based Fondation 30 Millions d’Amis (the Thirty Million Friends Foundation).

Hutin sent a film crew to Reunion this summer to obtain proof that live animals were being used as shark bait. (The photo above is a video still from that filming.) The practice was first exposed on the animal rights group’s weekly television show.

A videotape and photographs show the dogs with multiple hooks sunk deep into their paws and snouts. Cats are also being used as bait, according to the organization.

“From then on everyone started to take the whole story seriously and realized it was true,” Hutin said.

A veterinarian successfully treated one of the canines, a six-month-old dog with a large fishhook through its snout at an SPA (Animal Protective Society) clinic in Reunion’s capital, St. Denis.

Unlike most of the hooked animals, the dog was someone’s pet, according to Saliha Hadj-Djilani, a reporter for the Thirty Million Friends Foundation’s TV program. The dog had apparently escaped its captors and was taken to the SPA by a concerned citizen. Fully recovered, the animal is now home with its owners.

The other two cases uncovered by Thirty Million Friends were strays. They now live in France with new owners.

The foundation plans to finance a sterilization program on the island to reduce the stray overpopulation.

Hutin said many locals view the strays as vermin. “There’s no value to the life of a dog there,” she said.

(Photo courtesy of Fondation 30 Millions d’Amis)

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