When I’m asked to choose my favourite animal it is hard to choose. I look close to home and am tempted to pick the wonderful lemur, the dazzling flamingo or the majestic giant tortoise. But whenever I am fortunate enough to go on safari at Ulusaba in South Africa, I know my answer: the painted wolf.
We got the chance to see them up close at Virgin Limited Edition’s Ulusaba recently and they were absolutely spectacular. Seeing them hunting is an awesome experience. Unlike most animals, they work as a family, hunting as a team and looking after their young and wounded in an organised, effective way.
These magnificent animals are very misunderstood. For a start, they are often known by the unflattering name wild dogs, casting them in a negative light. I much prefer the painted wolves name, due to their distinctive markings. They used to be considered by many to be pests of the bush, but in reality they are among the most intelligent, social and ingenious creatures on the planet. They are also very playful, with their young happy to climb around the tyres of our jeep and the adults practicing their hunting skills.
Wildlife photographer Nick Dyer and conservationist Peter Blinston have crowdfunded a new book, Painted Wolves: A Wild Dog's Life, which takes the reader on a fascinating journey into the lives of the painted wolves and what is being done to save them. It’s a beautiful book full of interesting facts and stunning photos, which I hope will raise the profile of the animals. All profits from the sale of this book will be donated to the Painted Wolf Foundation too.
I’m sure that Sir David Attenborough’s new show will help too, with three packs of painted wolves featuring in new BBC show Dynasty: Painted Wolves. I look forward to hearing what you think of the show, and of course the book too.