This is probably one of the most comprehensive books ever produced about an animal species. I’ve just gone through my copy, and the mixture of emotions experienced as I turned the pages left me feeling desperately sad and ashamed for what humans have done to them, yet full of admiration and hope for the future of painted wolves.
The vivid photography and detailed stories and information about the painted wolf take the reader directly into their world. Through Nick Dyer’s powerful images we can see the intelligence in their eyes and almost touch their huge ears and “painted” coats. We come to understand their devotion to each member of their pack, their consideration for both old and new family members. There’s no shortage of babysitters for the pups and they will bring food back for the sick and elderly members of the pack. They also mourn their pack members when they die.
The book also details the painted wolf’s interaction with other species, such as lion, hyena, vultures and elephants. The ambience of Mana Pools is perfectly captured in the photography and detailed descriptions, proving why this place is considered one of Africa’s most beautiful national parks.
Nick’s photographs are the result of five years spent photographing painted wolves in Mana Pools and Hwange. This is what makes the book extra special for Zimbabweans; this reader certainly felt a sense of pride and connection to the book because of the depth and detail about the Zimbabwean animals. Co-author Peter Blinston is based in Hwange, and has gained great respect over his twenty years of working with the local community to change their attitudes to both painted dogs and wildlife conservation as head of Painted Dog Conservation. This organisation is responsible for painted dog conservation on the ground in Hwange and the Lower Zambezi Valley.
An episode of David Attenborough’s acclaimed “Dynasties” series is devoted to painted wolves. Filmed entirely in Mana Pools it tells the story of two painted wolf families, one led by a matriarch named Tait with the other led by her daughter, Blacktip. Both packs appear in great detail in the book.
The painted wolf is a barometer for extinction at the hands of man. One hundred years ago over half a million painted wolves roamed 39 countries in Africa. Today just 6,500 remain in 14 countries. With the explosion of human populations all over Africa there is less land available for animal species. The book contains a copy of a 1916 certificate issued as a “Reward for the Destruction of Wild Dogs”. The skin and tail of the animal had to be produced in order to receive the cash payment of five shillings and the certificate
All the profits from the book will be donated to the Painted Wolf Foundation, dedicated to raising awareness and the conservation of the species across Africa. To date around $200,000 has been raised through sales of the book, a successful crowdfunding campaign and generous private donations. The campaign has the support of international organisations such as TUSK, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and Wildlife Conservation Network. Sir Richard Branson recently endorsed the book in a post on his personal blog.
There are some copies of the book are available in Harare, and we believe they would make a wonderful Christmas present. More copies will be here in the next few months. As mentioned, all profits from the sale of “Painted Wolves: A Wild Dog’s Life” will be donated to The Painted Wolf Foundation, which is determined to get this incredible species a seat on the top table of global conservation.
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