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Saturday, October 17, 2020


The book is a superb 224-page photographic celebration of the beauty and uniqueness of these charismatic and intelligent animals. (Review by Keith Millar)

A few years ago, along with some friends, I was fortunate enough to enjoy a camping trip through some of the more remote areas of Botswana. One of the locations where we pitched our tents was at a rather remote, unfenced, camp alongside the Khwai River in the Moremi Game Reserve in northern Botswana.

One morning, while we were preparing breakfast, a pack of the most spectacular African Wild Dogs strolled majestically through our camp.

Totally unfazed by the presence of human beings they lingered for a while, sniffing around, and communicating with each other with their surprising chirping vocalisations. They even seemed to have time to pose for our cameras. It was without doubt the closest encounter any of us has had with wild animals.

Altogether it was an awe-inspiring, almost mystical experience, and one that I will always treasure.

Then, recently, I was given photographer Jocelin Kagan’s glorious Africa’s Wild Dogs - A Survival Story to review and it brought all those wonderful memories vividly back to life.

The book is a superb 224-page photographic celebration of the beauty and uniqueness of these charismatic and intelligent animals. Jocelin Kagan has graphically captured all aspects their daily lives. Their moods, social interaction, playful and inquisitive nature and their rather brutal but effective hunting skills.

From both a technical and creative point of view these photographs are absolute masterpieces.

The book is a large format hardcover and is printed on high quality paper. It is altogether a most attractive publication.

Kagan also relates intimate stories of her interaction with Wild Dogs over many years as well as sharing her considerable knowledge of the animals.

She also invited an array of experts to contribute to the book and to add their knowledge and expertise about the dogs.

Wild dogs have the most structured social order of all the carnivores, living in packs led by a dominant male and female. All other members of the pack play a subordinate role to the alpha pair. They are, however, critically endangered. Once found widely across sub-Saharan Africa, today there are only approximately 6,600 remaining.

That these animals are close to Kagan’s heart is apparent and in some ways her relationship with them reads like a love story. So much so that she has decided that all the profits from this book will go towards her new foundation the African Dog Survival Fund.

Africa’s Wild Dogs is a magnificent coffee table book. But it is more than just a thing of beauty, which it most certainly is, it also serves an important role in highlighting the serious endangered position that the animals are in. Hopefully it will make a considerable financial contribution to securing their survival.

Africa’s Wild Dogs – A Survival Story is published by Merlin Unwin Books. ISBN 978-1-913159-19-1. Recommended retail price R520. – Keith Millar