From a Japanese draghunt to a chasing jackal in Palestine, Will Cursham discovers some of the most extraordinary packs of hounds in the world – some of whom live on today
“Meet: two days a week from November to March in Baghdad area,” runs the entry for the Royal Exodus Hunt (Baghdad) (REH) in the 1935 to 1936 edition of Baily’s Hunting Directory.
Today we think of Iraq as a country torn apart by the ravages of the Saddam Hussein regime, two Gulf Wars and ISIS. Images of endless deserts, armoured cars, crippling conflict and improvised explosive devices spring to mind. There are few places on earth less suited to a pack of hounds.
Yet in 1935, the REH was a thriving concern, with 20 couple of English foxhounds and kennels on the outskirts of Baghdad. Jackal and desert foxes were hunted and the obstacles were “irrigation ditches and mud banks”. The subscription was modest – three Iraq dinars – although few hunts could boast a more prestigious patron, His Majesty King Ghazi of Iraq.