The painted dog goes by many names. It is most commonly called the African Wild Dog but it has, more recently, become apparent that the name “Painted Dog” is likely to counteract the negative association that is automatically made when the African Wild dog is mentioned. Painted Wolf is another name that many conservationist groups feel might help in rebranding the negative image held by these animals and makes for a rather accurate interpretation of the scientific name: Lycaon Pictus (wolflike and painted).

It would seem that people have always some had trouble deciding what to call this peculiar creature. In 1820, Dutch Zoologist Coenraad Temminck named the animal “Hyaena Picta” or painted hyaena. Later, it was discovered by Joshua Brooks that it was a Canid (dog) rather than a hyena and he accordingly renamed it, Lycaon Tricolour. Later, the name was changed to Lycaon Pictus as was required by the International Rules of Taxonomic Nomenclature which state that both words in the name must be in Latin.

A few other, more common names for the painted dog include:
-African hunting dog
-Cape hunting dog
-Painted hunting dog
-Painted lycaon

The African wild dog, also known as the painted dog is one of many endangered species in Sub Saharan Africa. The difference between this and the countless other species that find themselves threatened is that the painted dog is neither cute nor majestic, in fact, they are quite ferocious and scary.

If you were to see a photo of a majestic leopard draped over a tree branch or of a cuddly seal staring into your soul, you are very likely to donate to whatever charity is trying to guilt you into being a better person. However, if you were to see a pack of wild dogs viciously attacking their prey, your sympathy might not be evoked towards these long-legged, scraggly looking beasts. However, this one-of-a-kind predator is just as essential to the maintenance of a healthy ecosystem as any other animal. Hence, I hope that while exercising my writing skills and perhaps earning a few pounds while doing so, I can also educate anyone who wishes it concerning these fascinating animals and the role that they play in the ecosystem, of southern Africa. Perhaps next time you give to a wildlife charity, you may consider donating to their cause as well.

“I should study abroad.”

It was just a random thought that came to me while trying to solve the world’s problems with my roommate (as one does) but the thought did not let go. It held on until it became a fully-fledged idea and though the accomplishment of this goal still seemed elusive, no daydream of the future seemed complete without the inclusion of this seemingly passing idea.

I am not sure what bought it on as I have always loved my country! The beaches, the thunderstorms, the Drakensberg Mountains, the diversity, the people and the food. However, the more I looked at my options for postgraduate studies in South Africa, the more sensible the idea of studying elsewhere became.

This notion remained fixed, even after my marriage. What’s more, my husband had the potential to apply for an ancestral VISA for the United Kingdom. When he was offered a job in Scotland, it seemed that everything was finally falling into place.

Everything went smoothly. Our VISAs were approved, our tickets booked and we were set to arrive in April 2020…

As you might have guessed, this did not go as planned. With travel restrictions in place, our flights were cancelled and we were stuck in lockdown in South Africa. I have never known such a strange concoction of emotion! Frustration, boredom, stress and panic don’t even begin to describe the turmoil of my mind. Our marriage took strain and I began to question whether it would not be better to stay. To stay in a place that was familiar, where I had a career as a music teacher and friends and family who loved me.

Despite all my doubts, we made it to Scotland in August and yet, my dream of studying further remains just that: A dream.

On the bright side, I am experiencing a whole new culture in a truly beautiful (albeit cold) country with scenery that could have been cut straight from a postcard.

The challenges faced in trying to fit into a new coutry makes for interesting story telling, and as I have little else to do, I have decided to write about it.