Painted Dog Conservation
Gregory Rasmussen – Painted Dog Conservation, Zimbabwe
Painted dogs (Lycaon pictus), also known as African wild dogs, have declined throughout Africa and are highly endangered. Down from approximately half a million animals, the African population stands at approximately 3,000 animals, with a great proportion of these individuals either in unprotected/prey-depleted areas, or protected areas where the low numbers do not represent a viable population. This situation, driven by predudice and ignorance, has arisen directly as a result of systematic bounty hunting, poachers' snares and road kills.
With a view of protecting the painted dog and increasing its range and numbers both in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in Africa, Painted Dog Conservation was established in 1989. The programme is committed to creating a conservation model built on education, community involvement and international support. The programme consists of:
- An environmental interpretive centre, in Hwange, for community education.
- The Iganyana Bush Camp, in Hwange, for children, which will have provided free educational programmes to more than 1,200 children by the end of 2005.
- An 18-man anti-poaching unit that has removed more than 10,000 deadly snares.
- A rehabilitation centre that houses painted dogs prior to being reintegrated into the wild.
- An arts and crafts centre where local artists turn snare wire into art that is then sold to benefit the long-term survival of painted dogs. The programme aims to alleviate poverty, provide jobs and help communities in the area to develop more sustainable livelihoods.
- An ongoing research programme.
Also a number of ex situ bred individuals have been released to the wild in South Africa and Zimbabwe: three at Pilanesberg National Park, six at Madikwe Game Reserve, three at Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve, nine at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, four at Karongwe Game Reserve and four at Matusadona National Park.
As a result of all of the above, the Zimbabwean population of painted dogs has now more than doubled, currently distributed at three main locations and standing at approximately 750 individuals, with a significant proportion now outside the confines of national parks.
Painted Dog Conservation Inc. (PDCInc), Australia, was established in October 2003 to provide support for the Painted Dog Research Project, which operates across Zimbabwe and has its operations based outside of Hwange National Park. In November 2004, PDCInc achieved entry to the Australian Register of Environmental Organisations, allowing tax deductible donations. It has in excess of 150 members who share a common interest in conservation of this most persecuted species.
From 23 to 25 March 2014, Stichting Painted Dog Conservation is organising the First European Workshop on the African Painted Dogs at GaiaZoo, Kerkrade, The Netherlands.