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Margot Raggett on Compiling Conservation Book Remembering African Wild Dogs

Margot Raggett on Compiling Conservation Book Remembering African Wild Dogs

African Wild Dogs are misunderstood, persecuted and now critically endangered — acclaimed photographer Margot Raggett sheds light on this unique species.
Written by Joe Wahome
20 May 2022

Margot Raggett’s Remembering Wildlife book series is back with a sixth instalment, Remembering African Wild Dogs, a tribute to the critically endangered African Wild Dogs. Here’s why some of the world’s top wildlife photographers came together to help publish this coffee table book.

While on safari at Laikipia Wilderness camp in Kenya, Margot Raggett first encountered African wild dogs. They were running off to hunt, with Margot and her guide racing to keep up with them. When the pack came back together, they greeted each other so enthusiastically — as if they’d not seen each other for 20 years, which shows how strong their bonds are.

It was so endearing and deeply moving that Margot fell in love with them there and then. Needless to say, she is envious of the travellers yet to enjoy that first, incredibly special experience.

Author and photographer Margott Ragett on assignment in the Maasai Mara. Source | Adam Banister.

Why we need to remember African Wild Dogs

“I was always keen to produce a book on wild dogs because I know it’s a very under-represented species in photography circles. It’s hard to see them in the wild and there are fewer images of them around, so there is much less known about them than other species we’ve featured in the series. With only 6,600 left in the wild, and 700 breeding pairs, I felt that their plight needed to be told. The main challenge we faced was around putting together the book during the lockdown, working remotely and getting the book printed in Italy was challenging, but we have persevered, and we’re thrilled with it”.

Who are the photographers featured in this book?

The Remembering Wildlife series has worked with close to 200 photographers. Some, such as Frans Lanting, Art Wolfe, plus Jonathan and Angela Scott, have been involved since the beginning and, very often, these photographers are keen to keep contributing.

For example, Neil Aldridge, who took the image on the front cover of Remembering African Wild Dogs, donated an image to Remembering Rhinos, the second book in the series. They likewise try to feature photographers that are new to the series too, such as Chris Fallows, who has an image in Remembering African Wild Dogs.

Wild Dog at sunset at Mana Pools Source | Sabine Stols/ Remembering African Wild Dogs.

“We also run a competition every year to give other photographers the chance to get their images in one of 10 available slots in the book. We get thousands of entries from all over the world. Whoever the photographer is, we use the most beautiful images we can find. We have seen a big surge in wildlife photography being used more and more to raise awareness of conservation projects and the plight of certain species. Photographers support Remembering Wildlife because it enables them to give back to the wildlife they make a living from photographing. It’s very important, as well as creating awareness, that we support projects that make a difference. So far, Remembering Wildlife has donated £850,000 to 55 wildlife projects in 24 countries,” recalls Margot.

Only 6600 wild dogs remain in the wild. Source| Nick Lyon/ Remembering African Wild Dogs.

How does Remembering Wildlife make a difference?

Wildlife photographer Daryl Balfour and a contributor to this series says, “Margot has revolutionized wildlife coffee table books. Margot is raising so much awareness and so much money. It’s an incredible series. I take my hat off to her.”

Global conservation icon Dr Jane Goodall says this about the project. “The Remembering Wildlife series is not only beautiful but critically also raises both awareness and funds for conservation. A must for any wildlife-lover.”

Margot believes that African wild dogs will survive in the next decade, not least because of some of the organizations that Remembering Wildlife supports, such as the Endangered Wildlife Trust, which runs its fantastic range extension programme.

The first major donation from Remembering African Wild Dogs helped support the successful translocation of two packs of African Wild Dogs from South Africa and Mozambique to Liwonde National Park and Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi, in partnership with African Parks.

The author Margot Raggett with acclaimed conservationist Dr Jane Goodall.

African voices for the African Wild Dog

Remembering African Wild Dogs features essays by three African authors – John Kamanga Founder and Director of SORALO (South Rift Association of Land Owners); Henri Mwape (Assistant Project Manager of the Zambian Carnivore Programme, Luangwa) and Dedan Ngatia (Carnivore Ecologist, University of Wyoming and Mpala Research Centre). They all talk about how the African Wild Dog is shrouded in mystery and how they were, and still are, feared by local people.

“I thought it was really important to have African voices in the book and enlightening to hear their experiences. We always strive for a wider representation of black photographers and conservationists, but the challenge is that there are fewer out there taking pictures of the resolution that we would need for our books. But wherever we can include photographers from diverse backgrounds, including women, we do so,” says Margot.

“The Remembering Wildlife series is so important to the cause. It is creating a conservation movement which in turn has created a vast network of conservation champions across the world who are passionate about these species. At an incredibly difficult time, this has brought much-needed resources to conservationists and communities on the ground, who are working to tackle the very real challenges that living alongside all these animals can bring,” John Kamanga of SORALO and one of the essayist says.

John Kamanga of SORALO and of the book’s essayist.

The path from PR to passionate photographer

“I caught the safari bug in 2000, when I took my first trip to South Africa, ten years later, I took my proper pictures, when I signed up to a migration safari in the Maasai Mara with Jonathan and Angela Scott. Only realizing the day before that I had booked a photographic safari, I bought a Nikon kit camera with a lens that only went up to 70mm. I took terrible pictures that trip, but, inspired by the Scotts, I was determined to get better and signed up to a course at the London School of Photography and upgraded my gear.”

The author, Margot Raggett who has penned 6 titles on Remembering Wildlife and is about to publish one dubbed Remembering Bears this year.

“Around the same time, in 2010, I gave up my job as CEO of a PR company in London and inspired by the Scotts, decided to try and pursue a career in wildlife photography. In 2013 I became a regular ‘Photographer in Residence’ at Entim Camp in the Maasai Mara and also started to lead photographic safaris,” Margot recalls.

Margot and her team have supported projects that help to promote the balance between people and wildlife and will continue to do so. For example, they have donated towards bee fences. These hanging beehives sit on fences surrounding crops to deter elephants trampling through farmers’ fields in Kenya. Elephants dislike these bees and are deterred from coming into contact with the fences. Land owners that install the bee fences can also sell honey and other related products, which add to their income.

Another example is that they fund camera traps, so villagers are encouraged to capture images of wildlife and are paid to do so.

African wild dog pups, Zimanga private game reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa | Source: Anne & Steve Toon/ Remembering African Wild Dogs.

Margot says: “Initially, I worked in conjunction with the Born Free Foundation, as I wanted some expertise on where the money would be best spent. As the series has progressed and I have learned more, we now are able to identify deserving projects ourselves. Some organizations approach us, others are recommended, and I always vet them with trusted advisors such as my mentors Jonathan and Angela Scott.”

Zimbabwe, Mana Pools | Source: Art Wolf/ Remembering African Wild Dogs.

They work with many photographers that support local projects which can come personally recommended to Margot and her team. For example, photographer Greg du Toit is an ambassador of Rebuilding the Pride (aka SORALO) in Kenya, which needed a vehicle to assits its vital work in protecting lions in the South Rift Valley.

African Wild Dogs | Source: Andy Skillen/ Remembering African Wild Dogs.

Margot visited the project with Greg and was able to understand the difference that we could make if we donated enough to buy a vehicle.

“It’s important to me that we support projects that our photographers are passionate about, they know who’s doing good work and I want to be able to give back to something that means so much to them. It becomes full circle, as the photographers give us their images and in return we are supporting projects that they care about.

Buy the book: Remembering African Wild Dogs

Remembering African Wild Dogs Cover shot by Neil Aldridge. | Source: Remembering African Wild Dogs.

Prefunded by successful Kickstarter campaigns, the profits from books go straight to the projects that protect the focal species of the book.

This photographic book is full of beautiful images donated by more than 80 of the world’s top wildlife photographers. Its aim is to demystify painted wolves (as they are also known), raise awareness of their plight and also to raise funds to protect them.

 

Cover Image by Will Burrard-Lucas/ Remembering African Wild Dogs shot at Hwangwe National Park, Zimbabwe.

Help fund the latest campaign, Remembering Bears Kickstarter campaign which launched on 1 April 2022.

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