Conservation is Critical for Attraction Retail

My family and I had the privilege of traveling to Africa this summer. We gazed at Africa’s great expanse on safari, engaged in hands-on conservation work, and examined the sourcing of our products in the context of local African communities.

From left: James, Gerry and Caroline Ward

Time and reflection have a way of clarifying deep experiences- visiting Africa and interacting with its varied lands and peoples will take ample amounts of both to fully appreciate. It is nevertheless clear to me that the week I spent assisting the Painted Dog Conservation organization in Zimbabwe with my father was uniquely meaningful, even in view of all of the other amazing moments of the trip.

Wild Dogs
Left: Tracking African Painted Dogs  |  Right: Giving a Check-Up and Tagging

My father and I spent the week at the beautiful Hwange National Park, removing snare wire traps as well as tracking and collaring African Painted Dogs. These dogs, that are sometimes called African Wild Dogs or Painted Wolves, have long been among my favorite animals to track and photograph. They’re also a highly endangered species- with only 7,000 remaining in all of Africa, it’s quite possible that they could go extinct in our lifetimes if no corrective action is taken.

African Painted Dogs   (photo © James Ward)

The fate of African Wild Dogs is put in further jeopardy by the lack of public awareness about their plight. That’s why I am happy to both personally and professionally support Painted Dog Conservation and the Painted Wolf Foundation in their critical efforts to educate people both within Africa and abroad on the imperiled future of these magnificent creatures.

Collecting snare wire traps.

Part of that support has come in the form of financially assisting Painted Wolves: A Wild Dog’s Life, an upcoming book that will be the most comprehensive one ever published on Painted Dogs. My friend Nick Dyer spent five years tracking and photographing three different packs in Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe, and the results have been awe-inspiring. As the book enters the final stages of its Kickstarter campaign to cover publishing costs, please consider donating to Nick’s timely project.

pw cover

Wildlife Trading Company is working with Painted Wolf Foundation to distribute this book to zoos and nature-based gift shops, in conjunction with our product line that will accompany the book’s release and raise awareness about the plight of the African Painted Dog. Stay tuned for more information about this exciting development.

Visiting the Little Ndaba factory.  70+ new employees have been hired to support our orders!
Some of the hand-knitted and crocheted toys produced by Little Ndaba.

It is my belief that retailers have an obligation to support conservation and sustainability efforts, particularly those who operate retail shops in zoos, aquariums and other attractions that celebrate nature or outdoor activities. Wildlife Trading Company has time and again proven itself a leader in this regard- engaging in hands on in-situ work, sourcing products that promote conservation or sustainability, and financially supporting foundations dedicated to conservation efforts are but three of the ways we live out that charge as an organization. I’m likewise proud of Wildlife Trading Company’s continued success over the past three years following our elimination of single-use bags in our shops.

Perhaps more than anything, these choices have taught us that environmentally-conscious and conservation-friendly products do not necessarily lead to higher prices or lower per cap sales- the opposite, in fact, has been true. We continue to dedicate ourselves to educating visitors and providing them with authentic purchase options that honor the beasts of the wild and the environment that sustains them.

~ James Ward, President & CEO


Handcrafting beautiful jewelry from snare wire at Mulberry Mongoose.
Snare Wire Collection
Types of jewelry from Mulberry Mongoose that are handcrafted out of snare wire wire