I like wine. I don’t know much about it other than like a Ginger person (I have 35 years of experience to back up this opinion) it primarily operates in the colour tones of red, white and pink and that usually the nectar in the bottles is better than the nectar in the boxes; although an inflated box lining makes a better pillow than a bottle. What a bonus then that an award winning wine with serious conservation credentials has arrived on the scene.
Painted Wolf Wines blends wine making with conservation ambition and in Jeremy and Emma Borg they have built a team and an initiative unlike any I’ve seen before. Apart from the wine branding and the direct contributions they make to the conservation of the species, Pedals 4 Paws is a cycle adventure initiative set up by Jeremy and Painted Wolf Wines to raise funds and promote the conservation of Wild Dogs; also known as African Painted Wolves. His aim is to ride 5 000 – 6 000 kilometres over a 36 month period to raise the profile of, and money for, Wild Dogs throughout Africa. Each stage will involve a number of other cyclists keen to join the cause and help raise money and the profile. The aim is for the project to raise R500 000 or more. So just recently a motley gathering of unfit men and supremely fit women had the opportunity to link into one of Jeremy’s Pedal 4 Paws rides to several of KwaZulu-Natal’s Wild Dog reserves. I still don’t understand the skill of ad hoc route planning but in time I expect we’ll be able to find less up-hills and more down-hills. For more information definitely check out their Facebook page.
It’s also the time of year the game reserves start to swell with tourists. For those of you heading to reserves in KZN you can be assured of three constants; some days of epic rain, lush electric-green bush and a few days of beautiful, sweltering heat. The real bonus would of course be to mix a few Wild Dog sightings into that. It hasn’t been a bumper year for pups in KZN, and yet despite political upheavals in many of the packs, the population is fortunately still looking reasonably resilient. At last count Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park was boasting 75 Wild Dogs, Mkhuze Game Reserve 9, Tembe Elephant Park 9, Thanda Game Reserve 14 and Zimanga Game Reserve 13.
Although I’m a bit social media phobic, and I’d definitely take turning rolls of wors on the braai over fiddling on Facebook, it is certainly worth considering the information that’s now bouncing around on the networks. I feel slightly unclean for writing this, but a good bet for knowing where to head to see a pack is to check out the small collection of very useful Twitter accounts. There will be some padding about the other not-so-über-radical creatures in these updates, but keep watching and details like where the Wild Dogs are will emerge as sure as geckos will filter out my ceiling every night. For updates on Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park sightings it’s worth tapping into @latestimfolozi and @iMfolozisightin. Other great options are our monitoring allies from WildlifeACT (@wildlifeact), Antoine (@AntWildlifeACT) and Kevin (@KevWildlifeACT). If you’re heading further afield to the empire of the Kruger National Park, then definitely link into @LatestKruger and my roving Endangered Wildlife Trust Kruger Wild Dog colleague, Grant, on @KNPWildDogs. Safe travels.
The initiatives to expand the current range, and facilitate proactive management of Wild Dogs in northern KwaZulu-Natal is carried out through collaboration between the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Wildlife ACT, Wildlands Conservation Trust and the participants within the KZN Wild Dog Advisory Group. The EWT’s national Wild Dog metapopulation project is supported by Jaguar Land Rover South Africa, Land Rover Centurion, Knowsely Safari Park and Painted Wolf Wines.
If any readers observe Wild Dogs outside of protected areas, please note the location of the sighting, whether the animal is wearing a tracking collar and identify, or ideally, photograph any characteristic markings. Please notify Brendan Whittington-Jones on 072 992 9483 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Brendan Whittington-Jones | Coordinator KZN Wild Dog Advisory Group | EWT | #68
Photographs: Antoine Marchal