Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Environment of Ahaggar Mountains

The Ahaggar Mountain range is chiefly volcanic rock and contains a hot summer climate, with a cold winter climate (temperatures fall below 0°C in the winter). The mountains are young—about 2 million years old. Rainfall is rare and sporadic. However, since the climate is less extreme than in most other areas of the Sahara, the Ahaggar Mountains are a major location for biodiversity and host relict species. The Ahaggar Mountains compose the West Saharan montane xeric woodlands ecoregion. It is also one of the national parks of the country.

Painted Hunting Dogs

Slightly to the west of the Ahaggar range, a population of the endangered Painted Hunting Dog ( Lycaon pictus) remained viable into the 20th century, but is now thought to be extirpated within this entire region.

Some natives still report attacks by unidentified canines, possibly lycaon. Camera trapping should confirm whether or not this most elusive of African canines continues to exist in or near the mountain range. A group of field researchers including Koen de Smet and Farid Belbachir have collected information about reported lycaon sightings in Ahaggar and Tassili. Next round of camera trapping is planned for summer 2010, when genetic analysis of recovered carnivore scats will also be undertaken.

The IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group lists the Painted Hunting Dog as most likely extirpated in this area, but also reports that the precise distribution of all populations is unknown and states that further research, including field surveys, are required. This applies to a number of regions on the African continent, including environs of the Ahaggar Mountains of Algeria.

Other Carnivores

In scat collections there are records of the presence elusive and very threatened Saharan cheetahs, unidentified leopards, gennets, mongooses (species unresolved), wild cats, and some cryptic and unrecognized forms (include 14 samples of unmatched non-african canid DNA, extracted from fecal analysis). There wasn't scats found as golden jackals, sand cats, fennecs or Ruppell's foxes.


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