help make a difference for African wild dogs
Africa’s Wild Dogs – A Survival Story is a photographic book celebrating these charismatic predators and telling their story. All royalties raised from the sale of the book and photographs will go to organisations at the frontline of African wild dog (painted wolf) conservation.
The story of the persecution of Africa’s wild dog is well known. In 1914, R C F Maugham, a prolific British writer, explorer and hunter, was so enraged and appalled when he witnessed a wild dog kill that he declared the dogs’ undesirable vermin’ and ‘an abomination’, calling for their extermination. Other ‘conservationists’ and farmers at the time shared this view and so began the systematic decimation of African wild dog (painted wolf) populations, leaving just a few scattered packs in southern Africa.
Times have changed, and the collective efforts of scientists and conservationists have seen great strides in improving the outlook for these fascinating predators. In putting together these images, I was driven by a strong desire to move the narrative forward and create a visual statement of these enigmatic and lively animals in a way that will reveal their extraordinary natures. Africa’s Wild Dogs – A Survival Story documents my adventure with the dogs, my insights into their lives and their future.
When I started on my wild dog adventure just five years ago, I was relatively new to photography. Naturally, I wanted to capture the typical iconic shots of them standing shoulder or dashing after each other in a game of chase, but my vision centred around creating portraits. I found myself lying in the dirt and lugging lenses while racing across the bushveld and trekking through thick bush, not to mention waking up before the dawn to spend hours searching for my subjects. It was then that I learned that you never find wild dogs – they find you.
Through my time spent in the company of wild dogs, I have witnessed how they hold their own in the animal kingdom, playing a vital role in the ecological balance. They are equally deserving of the respect and awe generally attributed to larger, more fearsome predators.
Possibly the most successful hunters of all the larger predators, wild dogs work as a close-knit team to bring down their prey. They are athletic, long-limbed predators that seem to have boundless energy. They seldom sleep for long, and when it is time to move, they tend to run rather than walk.
In following this dream, I was able to team up with like-minded and passionate people. I am so grateful to have learnt from scientists who have sat for hours observing, checking and double-checking their facts to understand and explain wild dog behaviour. Each pack-family-member knows their role and sticks to it. They care for the pack’s puppies with dedication and do everything in their power to keep them safe and healthy.
I was privileged enough to witness tiny month-old pups being greeted by the rest of the pack for the very first time. The pack had been dancing merrily around the mouth of the den, calling and whooping until the alpha female deemed the timing appropriate. As the puppies crawled to the lip of the den, they were met with the adoring attentions of the older pack members – gently licked, sniffed, and examined from the tip of their tiny noses to their tails.
And there is good news. Under the careful guidance of Dr Harriet Davies-Mostert, her fellow scientists, researchers, rangers and all the hardworking volunteers at the Wild Dog Advisory Group (WAG) have been diligently sharing knowledge, research, and experience to nurture wild dog packs. And the numbers are growing. So much so that suitable and sustainable reserves and parks need to be found for these new families. Packs have been successfully translocated to Mozambique, Malawi and beyond. We now have approximately 6600 wild dogs in southern Africa.
All funds raised from the sale of my Wild Dog images and all royalties from the sale of Africa’s Wild Dogs – A Survival Story will go into the non-profit organisation: Africa’s Wild Dog Survival Fund and from there to the following organisations across southern Africa in appreciation of their participation in the book:
Dr Harriet Davies-Mostert, Head of Conservation – Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) South Africa and Chair of WAG – Wild Dog Advisory Group.
Dr Tico McNutt, Botswana Predator Conservation Trust.
Reena Walker University of Idaho – who conducted her Sneeze to Leave research together with the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust.
Prof Scott Creel, Zambian Carnivore Programme.
Dr Rosemary Groom, African Wildlife Conservation Fund (AWCF) – Zimbabwe.
Dr Dave Druce, KZN Wild Dog Management Group.
Nick Murray, Bushlife Conservancy: Painted Wolf Conservancy, Bushlife Support Unit Trust, Zimbabwe.
About the author
Jocelin Kagan’s passion for wildlife crystallised when she saw her first wild dog in 2010. ‘It was love at first sight’. Since then, Jocelin has been photographing and tracking wild dogs in Mana Pools in Zimbabwe, Botswana, the Timbavati in South Africa, and the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania. Jocelin has embarked on an ambitious undertaking to make known the plight of this most successful strategist of all predators. She holds Higher Primary Teacher’s Diploma with specialization in Speech & Drama from the University of Cape Town, a Master Practitioner Certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and a Henley Management College MBA, and is the published author of four books, an educator, and a public speaker.
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