SWIFT AND ENDURING: Cheetahs and Wild Dogs of the Serengeti by George & Lory Frame Frame

SWIFT AND ENDURING: Cheetahs and Wild Dogs of the Serengeti

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George and Lory Frame spent four years in the Serengeti observing cheetahs and wild dogs from their well-equipped Land Cruiser. (You will recognize some of the older dogs from Hugo van Lawick's earlier observations.) This dual mission makes for a disjointed book, which switches back and forth between chapters on cheetahs and chapters on wild dogs, to sometimes disorienting effect. The first-person ""I"" also switches from chapter to chapter, and it's not always clear who is speaking. Early chapters, too, seem bogged down in undifferentiated detail, from the animals' casual amblings to conversations about making coffee. However, significant behavior and relationships among the animals gradually come into focus, along with the dramas and tragedies of life in the fading wild. A solitary female cheetah is followed and finally seen mating--a first in cheetah-watching, say the Frames. Another, orphaned and so raised by humans, is painstakingly returned to the wild--but can't seem to make it on her own. Whole litters of wild dog pups are wiped out, though not before the observers' eyes, so there is some speculation as to just what happened. The Frames report on the female dogs' tendency to wander from the pack to join outside males, whereas with cheetahs the males leave the range while the females stay. They report incidents of violence and ""murder"" in both species (though not within packs); detail the dominant females dogs' persecution of their rivals with pups (in the rare instances where such pups are allowed to occur); note the dogs' habit of mounting for food, whatever the sex of mounter and mountee; and marvel at the constancy of certain females. (The dogs, being social animals, emerge as the more interesting characters.) The Frames' prognosis is favorable for cheetahs, with a population of about 1000 in the area, but guarded for the wild dogs, of whom perhaps 150 exist. There's nothing stirring about theft writing, but their sturdy accounting pays off in a fuller picture of these enduring predators.

Pub Date: May 28th, 1981
Publisher: Dutton