THE PAINTED Wolf Foundation (PWF) is set to launch a comprehensive book on painted wolves with profits set to be channeled towards conserving the fast disappearing species.

By Nokuthaba Dlamini

Six years in the making, the book written by conservationists Nicholas Dyer and Peter Blinston is titled: Painted Wolves:A Wild dog’s Life.

The painted wolf, painted dog or African wild dog, the book says, is one of the  planet’s most enigmatic predators and is also among the most endangered animals.

PWF said even though painted wolves were a protected species, their numbers were still dwindling and a critical risk was that few people knew that they existed and less care was given to them compared to the big five and yet, they too, deserve “a seat at the top table”.

“Painted  Wolves: A Wild Dog’s Life is a stunning coffee table book and is part of a campaign to raise awareness of the species and build a movement to ensure the long-term survival of this little-known creature.

“The painted wolf is a unique and remarkable creature. On the one hand, it is Africa’s most successful predator, yet on the other it is an incredibly social animal, caring deeply for its family’s well-being in a tight-knit pack,” a statement from the foundation said.

“The alpha female leads the pack behaving like a caring queen and general and is the only one to breed. Other members of the pack serve as dedicated aunts and uncles, teachers and playmates, hunters and defenders to a brood of beautiful but cheeky little pups.

“Despite their sometimes fearsome appearance, to those that come across a pack, the abiding words that burn into our souls are gentleness, playfulness, generosity, caring, sharing, responsibility, tolerance, kindness and love.

“Yet for the last 100 years, the painted wolf has endured an outrageous onslaught of persecution and loss of habitat, which has seen their numbers decline from 500 000 a century ago to only 6 500 today. This 99% reduction in their population has put the painted It has taken us five years of our lives to create a book which tells you what is so fascinating about the painted wolf. It is hard to get that across in a few lines here, but we will have a go… survival on a knife edge.”

The foundation said more conservation efforts should be directed at saving the painted wolf, as it was at the top of the list of animals that faced extinction.

PWF says they have already raised £75 000 ($95 000) to go towards the self-publishing of the book and Kickstarter campaigns and the book was now being printed and distributed in the Netherlands.

Painted dogs are monitored and filmed mainly in Hwange and Mana Pools, which are prime tourist areas in Zimbabwe. The dogs’ habitat is in a region known as Zambesia, which covers much of modern day Southern Africa, covering Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

About the authors

Dyer is an award-winning wildlife photographer and has spent the last six years tracking and photographing three packs on foot in the Zambezi Valley. He brings the painted wolves into  “your living room and imagination” telling the story of how they live in the wilds of Africa, far from the destructive influence of man.

Blinston has dedicated the last 20 years of his life to saving the painted wolf from extinction and is the managing director of Painted Dog Conservation in Zimbabwe. Blinston has knowledge in the tough world of conservation describing the many challenges he faces and the innovative and successful solutions he has introduced.

The book is illustrated with more than 220  images, with each photograph telling a story in its own right and bringing alive the captivating and mysterious world of the painted wolves and the lives of those around them.

Dyer and Blinston set up the Painted Wolf Foundation together to raise awareness of the species and get them the recognition and preservation they deserve.

They also intend to shine a spotlight on the organisations working across Africa to keep them from becoming extinct and raise funds to support innovative and effective programmes that they want to introduce.