Archive for June 1st, 2008

The Greatest Manhunt of World War II

June 1, 2008

Slate is carrying a very interesting photo essay on one Herman Perry – who was an African American World War II Soldier and became a fugitive after shooting down one of his white commanding officer. This essay titled as “The Greatest Manhunt of World War II” is based on a book – “Now the Hell will Start” written by Brendan I. Koerner. Herman Perry was positioned in Burma to build a road connecting from Assam in India to borders of China through Burma. After he shot one of his officer, he escaped into the jungles of Assam and took shelter with the Naga tribes. He infact became one of them and lived with them for many years (married the daughter of the head of the tribe) until he was caught.

The essay describes how much active US forces were on the Indian soil during the World War II. How many lives just get lost just to follow some fancies of the superiors. It is also so amazing that such unique historical stories can get so easily lost.

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Fascinating African Wild Dogs

June 1, 2008

African Wild Dog at Bronx Zoo.Image via WikipediaAlthough I have never seen them in the wild and I have never touched the African continent as yet, I have always been fascinated by the African Wild Dogs (biological name: Lycaon pictus) (wikipedia link) whenever I have heard or read about them. Although they may not give the most soothing view to the eyes, may not be majestic, and have plenty of ill-founded myths going against them, there are many amazing things about them. IMO, some of them can be translated into some real practices in our real life especially in Software Project Management. But more about that in some future posts.

Follow the link to the wikipedia to read more about these African dogs. Quite different from many of their other cousins – these dogs live in packs in wilderness, are hunters by nature, and come very close to modern dogs. All types of wolves also fall in this category. Also, with whatever I have read about Australian Dingos, they also come close to the African dogs. However there are certain characteristics that are still unique to the African Dogs.

Some of the things which are certainly fascinating about these African dogs -

  • Ability of each of the dog to live and survive in a pack while maintaining a unique role for themselves.
  • Understanding the roles and strengths/limitations of others in the pack. These animals play to other’s strengths and complement wherever required for other’s weaknesses. For example, their ability to regurgitate to feed other pack members such as the sick, injured or very old is certainly unique.
  • They do not seem to be instinctive hunters as many other wild animals. They have evolved their hunting tactics with learnings over the years.
  • They have the highest success rate in their hunt missions probably because of the attribute mentioned in the above bullet point. More than 75-80% of their hunts translate into successful kills. Compare that with the big cats like lions whose success rate is less than 50%.
  • Cursorial hunting ability – ability to run long distance to get their hunt.
  • Recursive divide and capture style of hunting – ability to continuously break and capture their target hunt to maximize their success rate in their hunt.

Take some time to read more about this beautiful animal by googling around on the internet. It is sad that this intelligent specie is on an endangered list now. By the latest what I have read, less than 5000 of them are remaining. With a mortality rate of more than 50% and life expectancy of around 10 years only, that surviving count is not that much.

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