Wildlife Matters: A community comes together for painted dogs
With less than 7,000 painted dogs spread throughout Africa each individual dog is vital to the survival of the species. The loss of any individual is significant and can make all the difference to a pack’s survival. So when the alpha female of the Tariro Pack, MK, was killed in a snare leaving the alpha male Surf alone and the pack breaking apart, the team at DSWF-supported Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) in Zimbabwe was devastated.
However, the team’s spirits were lifted by the local community when the Chief of the area, Chief Nelukoba, visited the PDC Director, Peter Blinston. “The Chief talked quietly but with passion about what PDC has done for his people, what the dogs have done for his people, that no other organisation has done so much and committed so much,” explained Peter.
At meetings with the PDC team local people stood up and spoke as passionately as the Chief had about PDC and the dogs. Fifty individuals volunteered to form anti-poaching units, eight women amongst them, who would patrol daily under PDC supervision. It was quite a statement and the sort of decisive action the team, and the painted dogs, needed.
This amazing community has already undertaken 11 patrols and recovered 144 snares. Chief Nelukoba told Peter that three known poachers who had been arrested in the past would now be expelled from his Chiefdom, a strategy used by traditional leaders to deal with undesirable elements in their community when all else fails. There could be no greater testament to the value this community puts on the dogs and the work PDC has done.
Photos courtesy PDC