On the trail of Africa’s wild dogs – IELTS Reading Passage 3

On the trail of Africa’s wild dogs

Just before dawn at a National Park in North Eastern South Africa, Micaela Szykman stands on a hill with a radio transmitter held in the air, listening for signals from the radio collars of African wild dogs. If the dogs are within range, Szykman jumps back into her four-wheel drive to catch up with them before they awake. Szykman, a researcher at the Smithsonian National Animal Park in Washington, D.C., is tracking the dogs for a park project.

The African wild dog, officially named Lycaon pictus, and also called the painted wolf or the Cape hunting dog is the victim mainly of human hunting. The dog is listed as endangered by the World Conservation Union. Lycaon pictus once roamed most of sub-Saharan Africa. Now only about 5,000 dogs can be found in isolated pockets of the continent.

In 1997, 2000, and 2003, wildlife managers reintroduced several packs of wild dogs from elsewhere in South Africa to this park in the hope of rebuilding the species. Wildlife officials and scientists like Szykman are watching and studying the reintroduction because such programs are integral to Lycaon’s survival.

Adult wild dogs, with round saucer-like ears and a “painted” black, white, brown, and yellow coat, weigh up to 25 kilograms and stand about 60 centimetres with a delicate build. “This is one of the most intensely social animals out there,” said Szykman, a behavioural scientist. “The entire pack, sometimes up to 20 dogs, always hunts, plays, walks, and feeds together. They never leave an animal behind and are always strengthening social bonds.” Each pack has only one breeding pair, and the rest of the pack helps raise the annual litter, up to 20 pups, one of the largest litter sizes of all African animals. Lycaon pictus hunts in packs and Szykman’s job is particularly difficult because wild dogs are tough to track. They travel up to 30 kilometres daily, with vast home ranges, 600 to 800 square kilometres on average.

“As a discipline, the science of reintroduction has been poorly studied,” said Steven Monfort, a research veterinarian at the Conservation and Research Centre in Front Royal, Virginia. “Reintroduction is not easy. Governments set aside land, and other people dump animals in there, which makes them feel good. If the animals increase, the reintroduction is a big success. If numbers fall nobody knows what went wrong,” Monfort said. The dogs’ radio collars provide only limited contact. Monfort has proposed the development of a satellite-tagging system so that Szykman and Monfort can track the animals year-round and mark their range, including how close they come to humans and other threats.

The researchers also hope to expand the use of satellite collars to hyenas and lions to understand how competition with these animals affects the dogs’ reproduction and survival. These two species also play a role in reducing African wild dog numbers. “If you fence in a reserve or surround a wild area with human settlement then you need to adjust the species levels to maintain healthy populations of dogs, hyenas, and lions which are all interacting on overlapping areas of land” said Monfort.

To Scott Creel, a behavioural scientist at Montana State University in Bozeman, reintroduction is the right approach for South Africa. “Reintroduction is exciting because it beats caged management in zoos. But in the long term, it is useless unless it results in larger, well-protected reserves or changes patterns of land use. These wild dog populations won’t be self sustaining unless the land area is large enough” said Creel, co-author of The African Wild Dog: Behaviour, Ecology and Conservation. “There’s a long history of reintroduction there. They have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t.”

Hunting drastically reduced the wild dog population in South Africa except for Kruger National Park where there are approximately 300 to 500 dogs. Though Creel is also not convinced that the reintroduced wild dog population will thrive without hands-on management, he supports the effort because reintroduction of these animals at smaller satellite parks and private reserves raises the national wild dog population and is an insurance policy if disease hits. Already the luck of African wild dogs is changing. In the past, farmers often just shot the dogs on sight. Now when somebody sees the dogs outside the reserve, Szykman gets a call about their location.

Questions

Questions 27-32

Do the following statements agree with claims of the writer in Reading Passage 3? In boxes 27-32 on your answer sheet, write

YES                  if the statement agrees with the information

NO                    if the statement contradicts the information

NOT GIVEN   if there is no information on this

27. ………. The African wild dog has other names associated with it, often being referred to as the ‘hunting wolf’.

28. ………. There are more African wild dogs in Sub-Saharan Africa than in South Africa.

29. ………. Scientists are trying to save the African wild dog by putting them in new national parks in South Africa.

30. ………. African wild dogs roam large areas and often travel extreme distances

31. ………. Introducing African wild dogs into new areas is quite easy and there has been a lot of research related to this field.

32. ………. Radio transmitters help scientists track the movements of hyenas and lions.

Questions 33-35

Write the correct letter A-G, in boxes 33-35 on your answer sheet.Which THREE of the following are given as reasons for African wild dogs currently being endangered?

A. Doing scientific tests on the wild dogs. 

B. The loss of habitat for the dogs. 

C. The building of fences to capture them. 

D. Hyenas and lions competing with them. 

E. Trasporting the dogs to other areeas. 

F. Not having enough food to eat. 

G. Humans killing wild dogs

Questions 36-40

Look at the statements (Questions 36-40) and the list of scientists and researches below. Match each statement with the correct person, A-C.

Write the correct letter, A-C, in boxes 36-40 on your answer sheet. You may use some letters more than once.

List of People

A. Micaela Szykman

B. Steven Monfort

C. Scott Creel

This scientist or researcher…

36.  is monitoring the African wild dogs movement and behaviour.

37.  has found that African wild dogs are a family orientated species.

38.  does not think current systems of tracking African wild dogs is sufficient.

39.  believes repopulating areas with African wild dogs is currently the best solution for their survival.

40.  thinks that local attitude towards African wild dogs is changing in a positive way.

Answers

Questions 27-32

27. Answer: No

  • Key words: African wild dog, other names, hunting wolf
  • The second paragraph mentions the names of the African wild dog:
    •  “The African wild dog, officially named Lycaon pictus, and also called the painted wolf or the Cape hunting dog….”
  • Therefore, the African dog has three other names, which are its official name (Lycaon pictus) the painted wolf and the Cape hunting dog. The hunting wolf is not one of these names. 
  • The answer is NO.

28. Answer: Not Given

  • Key words: more, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa.
  • There are names of some locations, so we should try to find those names in the passage. Sub-Saharan Africa is mentioned in paragraph 2 as the place where “Lycaon pictus once roamed most”. 
  • “Once” means it used to be the place where there were the most African wild dogs, but this refers to the past and not to the present. There is no information about whether there is a larger number of this kind of dog in Sub-Saharan Africa than in South Africa now. Hence the answer is Not given.
  • The answer is NOT GIVEN.

29. Answer: Yes

  • Key words: scientists, save, new national parks, South Africa
  • In the third paragraph, the writer tells us that:  
    • “In 1997, 2000, and 2003, wildlife managers reintroduced several packs of wild dogs from elsewhere in South Africa to this park in the hope of rebuilding the species.  Wildlife officials and scientists like Szykman are watching and studying the reintroduction… ” 
    • save = rebuild
    • put ~ reintroduce
  • The answer is YES.

30. Answer: Yes

  • Key words: roam, large areas, travel, extreme distances
  • This information is about the features of this species, therefore we pay attention to paragraph 4, which contains this kind of information.  
    • “They travel up to 30 kilometres daily, with vast home ranges, 600 to 800 square kilometres on average.” 
  • “Vast” means “large” and “home ranges” refer to “areas”. The African wild dogs travel up to 30 kilometers everyday, which can be considered as extreme distances (extreme means very large in amount). The answer therefore is Yes.
    • roam = travel
    • large = vast
    • areas = ranges
  • The answer is YES.

31. Answer: No

  • Key words: introducing, new areas, easy, a lot of research 
  • Introducing the species into new areas can be considered as their “reintroduction” because they used to live there but do not live there now. 
  • Paragraph 5 is about reintroduction. 
    • “As a discipline, the science of reintroduction has been poorly studied,” and “Reintroduction is not easy”. 
  • Therefore, as the science of reintroduction has been poorly studied, there has not been much research in this area (= related to this field).  As reintroduction is not easy, it is obviously wrong to say that it is quite easy.
  • The answer is NO.

32. Answer: No

  • Key words: radio transmitters, track, movements, hyenas and lions.
  • Paragraph 5 mentions the  radio collars used to track the wild dogs which have been reintroduced. These radio collars enable scientists to track the movements of these dogs. 
  • In the first sentence of paragraph 6, the author writes:  
    • “The researchers also hope to expand the use of satellite collars to hyenas and lions…”
  • This means the collars may be used for hyenas and lions in the future, but this is not done now.
    • radio transmitters ~ satellite collars
  • The answer is NO.

Questions 33-35

Questions 33-35. Answer: B. The loss of habitat for the dogs., D. Hyenas and lions competing with them., G. Humans killing wild dogs

  • Key words: three, reasons, currently, endangered
  • We need to search for the present (= current) dangers to the survival of African wild dogs. In paragraph 6, we find a reference to hyenas and lions:
    • “The researchers also hope to expand the use of satellite collars to hyenas and lions, to understand how competition with these animals affects the dogs’ reproduction and survival.  These two species also play a role in reducing African wild dog numbers”. 
  • So, hyenas and lions are a danger to African wild dogs and one correct answer is D.  
  • In paragraph 2, we find another problem which endangers the African wild dog population:
    • “The dog is listed as endangered by the World Conservation Union.  Lycaon pictus once roamed most of sub-Saharan Africa.  Now, only about 5,000 dogs can be found in isolated pockets of the continent”.
    • “These wild dog populations won’t be self sustaining unless the land area is large enough”. 
  • Thus, the land area – which is the habitat of these dogs – must be large enough for them to survive.  They used to live in most of Africa, south of the Sahara desert, but now they have lost most of this habitat and live only in ‘isolated small areas’.
  • Therefore, another correct answer is B.
  • Finally, we need to find a third danger which faces the dogs.  In paragraph 2, we also learned that the African wild dog “…is the victim mainly of human hunting”, and in paragraph 8 hunting by humans is again mentioned:
    • “Hunting drastically reduced the wild dog population in South Africa…”  
  • So, both now and in the past, hunting is mentioned as a danger facing the wild dogs.  
    • >  killing ~ hunting
  • The third correct answer is G.
  • There is no information about scientific tests, or lack of food for the dogs, so A and F are not possible answers.  Transporting the dogs to other areas (= reintroduction) and building fences are measures taken to protect the dogs, so C and E are also not correct.
  • The answer is B, D, G.

Questions 36-40

36. Answer: A

  • Key words: monitor, movement, behavior
  • The first paragraph mentions Micaela Szykman and her work, which is tracking the African wild dogs by using radio collars. The action of “tracking” is one form of “monitoring”. 
  • The fourth paragraph once again mentioned her name and the author called her “a behavioural scientist”. 
  • Therefore, the scientist is Szykman. 
    • monitoring = tracking
  • The answer is A.

37. Answer: A

  • Key words: family-orientated
  • We know that Szykman is a behavioural scientist and this information is about the feature or behaviour of this species. So we can first pay attention to certain parts in the passage mentioning this scientist. 
  • In paragraph 4, she said:
    • “This is one of the most intensely social animals out there”. 
  • In terms of animals, “social animals” can be understood as “family orientated species” because they live, play and feed together, not individually. This is the observation made by Szykman. Therefore, the answer is A.
  • family orientated species ~ social animals
  • The answer is A.

38. Answer: B

  • Key words: not think, current systems, tracking, sufficient.
  • We need to look for information about tracking the African wild dogs and it is in paragraphs 5 and 6.  In paragraph 5, according to Monfort, the dogs’ radio collars provide only limited contact, and he has proposed a method for improvement, using satellite collars for tracking.   Scientists could then track the wild dogs at all times of the year.
  • Therefore, Steven Monfort is the scientist who does not think the current system, which is the use of radio collars, is sufficient.
  • The answer is B.

39. Answer: C

  • Key words: repopulating areas, currently, best solution, survival
  • “Repopulating areas” refers to “reintroduction” and the information lies in paragraphs 5, 7, 8. We should focus on those paragraphs. 
  • In paragraph 7, Scott Creel says that “reintroduction is the right approach for South Africa” and “reintroduction is exciting because it beats caged management in zoos”. 
  • In paragraph 8, we learn more about the reason for Scott Creel’s idea:
    • “Though Creel is also not convinced that the reintroduced wild dog population will thrive without hands-on management, he supports the effort because reintroduction of these animals at smaller satellite parks and private reserves raises the national wild dog population and is an insurance policy if disease hits”.
  • That means the method of reintroduction is better than keeping animals in cages in zoos, and can be considered as the best solution.  While he also claimed that it may not work in the long-term, according to Scott Creel, it is the best solution for now (currently).
    • repopulating areas ~ reintroduction
  • The answer is C.

40. Answer: A

  • Key words: local attitude, changing, positive
  • In the last sentences of the last paragraph, the local people are mentioned:
    • “In the past, farmers often just shot the dogs on sight. Now when somebody sees the dogs outside the reserve, Szykman gets a call about their location.” 
  • Farmers refers to some of the local people. And this means their attitudes are changing positively. They do not shoot the dogs, but they call Szykman instead. 
  • The answer is A.

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