About Me

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Mumbai, India
I'm a landrace dog fancier, birder and amateur arachnologist. Founder of the INDog Project (www.indog.co.in) and the INDog Club. Before that, worked with urban free-ranging dogs of Mumbai from 1993-2007. Also a wildlife conservationist working in the tiger reserves of central India with Satpuda Foundation.

This blog is for aboriginal breed enthusiasts. It is part of the INDog Project www.indog.co.in. Only INDogs (Indian Pariah) and INDog-mix mongrels are featured here. The two are NOT the same, do please read the text on the right to understand the difference. Our aim: to create awareness about the primitive natural breed called the Indian Pariah Dog/INDog. I sometimes feature other landrace breeds too.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

AfriCanis: Indigenous dog of Southern Africa

By now I'm hoping readers will have visited the INDog website and in particular seen the map "Aboriginal and Primitive Breeds Around the World."

In southern Africa you'll find the handsome AfriCanis, native dog of the same aboriginal type that once existed around the world and still exists in many countries including of course India.

That image and these were kindly contributed for the INDog site by Johan and Edith Gallant, who have worked tirelessly for years to win for these indigenous dogs the respect they deserve. Johan Gallant is an inspired photographer and I want to thank the Gallants again for allowing me to use these beautiful pictures. Read all about this remarkable dog in the AfriCanis website.

There are also two books by Johan Gallant that I am eager to read: "The Story of the African Dog" and "SOS Dog: The Purebred Dog Hobby Re-examined," which is co-authored by Edith.

An incident I want to share: last week at a safari camp in Botswana my husband brought up the topic of native dogs while we were having dinner. Two of the camp managers were South Africans, and I was really pleased when they started telling me about the AfriCanis, how they'd heard it had the best temperament of all breeds, and how dogs with the same appearance could be found in different parts of the world. A clear sign that the hard work of the Gallants and other AfriCanis supporters has paid off! It made me hope that one day knowledge about the INDog will also be widespread among Indians, instead of being restricted to a few enthusiasts.

Some earlier posts from this blog about African native dogs:
Isipho, Africanis pup,
Avuvi of Ghana,
Africa Snapshots (the last has pictures taken by me in Tanzania last year).

Photos: Johan Gallant
The AfriCanis Society of Southern Africa


Veera said...

Great pictures of Africanis by photographer Daniel Naudé can be seen here:


These pictures are currently being exhibited in Helsinki, Finland. Unfortunately the museum referred to the dogs as "wild dogs" and "wild animals". I couldn't help myself giving a little feedback about that because to me it sounds just as silly as to call African people in rural areas "savages".

Rajashree Khalap said...

Thanks Veera, beautiful images! Wish he'd come here and photograph our Indies.

I think you were quite right to clarify about the term "wild" used for free-ranging dogs. The niche of free-ranging dog that is still a human commensal is poorly understood by "developed" societies, including urban Indians. Even the term feral doesn't really apply to INDogs I feel, as they haven't returned to the wild like dingos or singers, but live on human waste and are dependent on humans for survival. In fact rural pet dogs also roam unrestricted and are easily mistaken for "feral" or "stray" dogs by urban people. They are often as wary of strangers as ownerless dogs. Check this post http://indianpariahdog.blogspot.com/2010/08/indogs-of-central-india.html - Vaishali's dog who sees me nearly every month, is still uncomfortable when I stare at him and he had to be held still for these photos!

Veera said...

The pictures themselves are really beautiful but I feel together with the museum brochure which say they are wild dogs (made by the museum staff, not the artist) they give a wrong impression because the dogs stand alone without people or other domestic animals, against the bare landscape. To the European eye they really do look like wild animals. In a book about the exhibition it was said that these dogs descent from wolves that have wandered from Egypt and Arabia, which is even greater misunderstanding because, as latest scientific evindence shows, dogs evolved in Asia and migrated to other parts of the world from there along with humans, already as domestic or at least semidomestic animals.

I personally prefer Johan Gallant's pictures of Africanis because they involve the dogs natural background, the people, village environment, other domestic animals, and the dogs look confident and more "at home" in his pictures. In Naudes pictures the dogs seem a little bit lost and scared, and tense because of the encounter with the photographer.

Rajashree Khalap said...

All true...in fact now that you point it out, the pics almost seem to celebrate the assumed "wildness" of the dogs.

However the average rural pet dog is in fact nervous of the camera, not because s/he is "wild" but because they are simply not used to being photographed or indeed stared at so much, unlike our urban pets! Even Lalee was not too comfortable with being photographed when I first adopted her, because the lens must look to her like a huge eye, which is of course a threat. In fact she almost attacked a photographer from Mid-Day newspaper when he came to photograph her and Bandra some years ago, but that was also because of the flash :-)

I've had a very tough time trying to click an INDog in profile, in a "dog book" pose. I wanted such a picture for our breed description in the site but finally had to make do with the closest suitable one. The dogs almost always want to keep their eye on the camera and keep turning around to face you when you try to sneak up from the side. I really need a second person to distract the dog so I can get the pose I want, but I am always alone on these dog-watching expeditions.