The Pack Review: It’s A Dog’s Life

April 12, 2010 by  
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THE PACK: Monday 12th April, Animal Planet UK, 8pm ALERT ME

The natural world never ceases to amaze. Our desire to explore the flora and fauna of the planet from the comfort of our couches is served by a never ending supply of wildlife documentaries and even dedicated channels.

David Attenborough’s efforts like Blue Planet and Planet Earth set a high benchmark for what is achievable out in the field. The Pack packs no open-mouthed-with-amazement visuals or life-affirming facts but does manage to document a rarely sighted species.

They’re not very exotic; Asiatic wild dogs look like foxes but without the big bushy tails. Until a couple of years ago the creatures, also known as Dhole, were regarded as vicious vermin and slaughtered to near extinction by farmers.

They’ve found some sanctuary these days however, in a reserve in southern India. Life isn’t all chasing sticks and going for walkies though, they live under the threat of tiger attacks, rival pack fights and forest fires.

Tracker and wildlife filmmaker Senani Hedge has been following these dogs for years, the footage and research coming together in this new series which documents the trials and tribulations of one in particular, a bold female called Kenai.

Hedge (a suitable surname as that’s where he’s hiding most of the time) thinks himself a bit of a poet. He gushes about the mystery of the forest longing to “live as free as a bird of prey, soaring high? and refers to the species in question as “phantoms in a myth?.

Though we get a brief explanation about the family set-up and survival skills you might expect from a nature film Hedge’s voice-over makes things seem more like a soap opera with dogs. He’s named them all, fair enough, but when a female wanders off Hedge tells us she has “left the pack to pursue her own dreams?.

Hedge clearly loves the animals he’s working with but after all that time alone with them in the woods he’s maybe got a little too close. The pack’s interactions are touching enough without his flowery language over the top. Nonetheless, you’ll find these humble creatures fascinating.