On a recent trip to central Thailand I spent a couple weeks volunteering at a fairly large scale animal sanctuary with a varied assortment of rescued exotic reptiles, primates, bears and elephants just to name a few. I planned the trip there with a small group of girlfriends and we all had high hopes of an amazing opportunity to learn about loads of wildlife that we hadn’t yet worked with. Unfortunately we were hugely disappointed at the way the sanctuary and volunteer program was managed, but it still provided us with lots of opportunities to observe and photograph the animals.
With the situation being what it was, and the sanctuary being in a fairly remote location, I quickly grew fond of some large free-roaming enclosures on the outskirts of the perimeter of the sanctuary. Whenever we had breaks between duties, or as light began fading at the end of each 11 hour work day I’d grab a camera and head out to the back forty to enjoy the peace and quiet in the forests.
Unlike some of the images I’ve captured over the years that I’m fond of because of memories associated with the time and place, this Asiatic Golden Jackyl image is a favorite because of how technically difficult it was to capture.
This particular evening as dusk was falling, I found myself still roaming around through the outskirts where various boar and deer are able to roam through the dense vegetation. This area was also bordered by various other habitats containing fishing cats, gibbons, slow loris, Asiatic black bear and jackyl. Since it was so close to dusk, it was a great time to observe the shy, nocturnal wildlife coming out of their daytime hiding spots. But with that, the light was also particularly difficult because of the rapidly falling sunlight and dense overhead canopy.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed just a slight bit of movement weaving through the brush to my right. I’m usually really good at spotting animals, but it took me a few attempts to get to the bottom of what was watching me and even longer to get a clear view. Sure enough it was this little jackyl. It was cautiously curious and would follow slowly and quietly behind me watching as I photographed the other animals. Any time I’d stop and try to turn to get a photo, no matter how sly I thought I was being, it would quickly slink back into the brush and disappear like a ghost.
After about 30 minutes of watching and being watched, as the very last of the light fell, I managed to get this pretty little fella standing in a small clearing long enough for me to snap 3 quick images before it quietly disappeared again for good.
I haven’t seen a jackyl in person before, but they remind me of our coyotes, except for much more timid. This fella and his pack let their curiosity get the best of their shyness, and I was so happy to have a chance to observe him and capture his curiosity and inquisitiveness as he peeked out from the safety of his forest.