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The Hwange painted dog project

The Hwange painted dog project

The Hwange painted dog project

Editor’s Note: Lycaon pictus translates from Latin as something close to ‘painted wolf,’ and this species is often also referred to as the ‘wild dog,’ but being neither wolves and needing distinction from feral domestic dogs both names are lacking. Researchers and the media have used various common names for this unique species, and continue to do so, including ‘Cape hunting dog,’ ‘African wild dog,’ and recombinations and variations on the theme. On this occasion we make no apologies for not standardising our terminology in Zambezi Traveller, in deference to our contributors, leaving their preference mostly unchanged. 

Painted Dog Conservation was originally established as Painted Dog Research in 1992. At this time, human-induced carnage from snares, shooting and road kills accounted for 95% of all dog mortalities in Zimbabwe.

During the subsequent years a strategy evolved establishing a combination of direct action policies and long-term education and community development programmes. Driven by the desire to make a substantial, lasting contribution to painted dogs, nature conservation and importantly to the lives of the local people, the project now employs some 45 staff in its various programmes.

Daily anti-poaching patrols provide direct protection for the dogs, while at the same time making a significant contribution to conservation. The PDC Rehabilitation Facility allows PDC to deal with any eventuality concerning injured or orphaned individual dogs or the translocation of entire packs from problem areas.

PDC Children’s Bush Camp teaches conservation concepts while promoting an emotional attachment to nature that will lead to a lifelong attitude of caring for it. To enhance this world-class programme PDC has established conservation clubs at local schools. The clubs undertake exercises such as tree planting and clean-up campaigns, which benefit their communities at large and further enhance an appreciation for and understanding of the environment.

The PDC Community Development programmes focus on income generation, the provision of nutritional vegetables and food security. Our award-winning HIV/Aids programme supports St Patricks Hospital, to establish monthly counselling and testing clinics for the surrounding communities, encouraging people to live a healthier life style and linking this with care about the health of their environment plus that of the painted dogs as well.

PDC sponsors the local soccer league to engage the area’s youth in a meaningful, motivational and healthy pursuit.

The PDC Visitor Centre features an interpretive hall which teaches visitors about the greater Hwange ecosystem, the plight of the painted dog and the significance of biodiversity. This unique facility is an added draw for the tourism industry in the region.

PDC has a research focus, which is currently addressing prey base and habitat loss as well as potential genetic issues for the national painted dog population. Monitoring of packs in Hwange National Park, Victoria Falls and the Zambezi Valley is a daily activity. With more than 130 dogs currently in Mana Pools and immediate surrounds alone, the Zambezi Valley population is probably the largest of the Zimbabwean dog populations. A national census is being run which is exploring the other areas of the valley and will be extending east to Kanyemba and west to Victoria Falls. Support from the public in terms of sighting reports and photos are greatly appreciated and can be sent to research@painteddog.org.

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 11, Dec 2012)

Read more about the region in our destination guide:

Read more about African wild dog in the Zambezi Traveller:
African Wild Dogs - The Best Team in Africa
Protecting wild dog in Luangwa
Zambezi key to African wild dog’s future
Conserving the African wild dog
Wild dog – the picture in Zambia
The African Wild Dog
Building Boundaries with Scent