Protecting Painted Dogs

by David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
Protecting Painted Dogs
Protecting Painted Dogs
Protecting Painted Dogs
Protecting Painted Dogs
Protecting Painted Dogs
Protecting Painted Dogs
Protecting Painted Dogs
Protecting Painted Dogs
Mbongeni Hadebe
Mbongeni Hadebe

In Zimbabwe we have been funding the Children's 'Iganyana' Bush Camp since 2004 and have welcomed over 10,000 students to this amazing residential camp. 

What is extremely exciting, is when former 'Iganyana' Bush Camp graduates become interns at PDC Rehabilitation Centre.

Meet Mbongeni Hadebe, in 2006 at the age of 12, he attended the four-day Bush Camp program. When he arrived he knew little about Painted dogs but at the end of his experience, he left with a better understanding of and appreciation for wildlife and the dogs. This is the main aim of the Bush Camp program, to educate people of the benefits of wildlife and how communities surrounding wildlife areas can live amongst it. 

Our funding means that the programme is free to all grade six students (11 year olds) from the 19 primary schools in Hwange area. The four day programme reaches more than 800 children each year and each of those children, inspired by the amazing experience, invariably returns home as an ambassador for wildlife and for the painted dog. 

It costs around £40 (US$53) for one child to attend a four day Bush Camp. So, for as little as £10 ($13) a day you can help change not only a child's life but the future of the painted dog and other wildlife in Zimbabwe that relies on people understanding and appreciating its true value.

Education not only matters but in Zimbabwe, it is helping to make a real difference to wildlife survival.  

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Socks with her first litter of pups in 2013
Socks with her first litter of pups in 2013

We are sorry to bring you sad news about the death of Socks. Socks was the alpha of the Nyamandlovu Painted Dog pack. One of six pups born in June 2010, her mother was Vusile, an orphaned dog that was homed for a short while at our Rehabilitation Facility. 

Socks was the most successful alpha female we have known, producing 33 puppies, of which more than half are still alive today. She rests now, where she died, in the centre of the territory she dominated for more than five years. 

When she was killed, her pups were only five weeks old and she was still suckling them. By the time we found her, it was also too late to save the pups. We are not sure how, why or what killed her. It was most likely lions, though there were hyena tracks all around her body. 

Socks was a symbol of success and hope for us - a pack thriving in the area where we do so much of our conservation education work. Fitted with a protective collar that saved her life just weeks ago, the collar bore the marks of a deadly, brutal snare. Our anti-poaching units were deployed time and time again into the forests where she roamed. We protected her with everything we have and all the knowledge we have gained so that she could thrive.

Alpha male Browney, and his phenomenal brother Ring, are left to provide for the nine pups born last year, until a new queen emerges to take Sock's place along-side them. 

Please help us to continue to give them all the support we can! Thank You! 

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Enjoying a Bush Camp lesson in Zimbabwe
Enjoying a Bush Camp lesson in Zimbabwe

Education forms a core part of what the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation supports. Park protection and anti-poaching programmes work in tandem with community outreach and education to create an holistic response to the issues facing endangered wildlife and the people who share their landscapes.

In Zimbabwe we have been funding the Children's 'Iganyana' Bush Camp since 2004 and have welcomed over 10,000 students to this amazing residential camp.

The aim is to teach children about conservation concepts, ecological relationships and the value of biodiversity along with an appreciation of painted dogs and the role they play in the ecosystem. It also works to inspire an emotional attachment to the beauty and complexity of nature.

Our funding means that the programme is free to all grade six students (11 year olds) from the 19 primary schools in the Hwange area.The four day programme reaches more than 800 children each year and each of those children, inspired by the amazing experience, invariably returns home as an ambassador for wildlife and for the painted dog.

A follow up session called Kids for Science is now offered to 14 year olds with many of the same children returning following their original Bush Camp visits.

The really exciting part of the programme is that the children who have attended the camps are now coming back to the project to work - as rangers in the anti-poaching units and as guides. In a country where formal education and employment is sometimes hard to come by this great programme is not only providing those key staples to locals but also an enduring and life-long understanding and respect for wildlife and, most importantly, the painted dog.

It costs around £40 (US$53) for one child to attend a four day Bush Camp. So, for as little as £10 ($13) a day you can help change not only a child's life but the future of the painted dog and other wildlife in Zimbabwe that relies on people understanding and appreciating its true value.

Education not only matters but in Zimbabwe, it is helping to make a real difference to wildlife survival.  

Understanding Nature courtesy Molly Feltner
Understanding Nature courtesy Molly Feltner
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Socks (collared) with her pack and pups
Socks (collared) with her pack and pups

With the first three months of 2017 having been intensely busy, raising funds and awareness for the survival of Zimbabwe's painted dogs has never been more urgent.

For some months the team in Zimbabwe had been concerned about the shifting territory of the Nyamandlovu pack, which saw the dogs spending more than 50 per cent of their time outside of the relative safety of Hwange National Park (HNP) where the teams patrol and remove thousands of snares left by poachers.

The team tried everything to encourage the dogs back into the park, including deploying a bio boundary of scent from other painted dogs which aimed to create the impression that the territory is already occupied. While they had some success with this, it has not been totally effective and the Nyamandlovu pack continued to leave the park again and again, straying into unprotected territory where the team cannot track and protect them effectively.

“To try and better protect them the team deployed the anti-poaching units, that you and DSWF fund, into those areas to keep them as snare-free as possible,” explains DSWF CEO, Oliver Smith. “Knowing they had to do more, the team also fitted protective collars to the alpha male, Browny and alpha female, Socks. Fortunately, they were just in time.”

The pack had not been seen for over a week when news arrived that one of the collared dogs had a wound on its neck.

Anxious to locate the pack and complete a head count, which is easier said than done with 12+ dogs, the team were relieved to discover that the pack was still 16 strong. All four collared dogs were present, plus the other three adults and nine remaining pups. But, the alpha female Socks has a wound on her neck.

Although Socks' collar had been twisted at a strange angle and was damaged; a clear sign that she had been caught in a snare, thankfully her wound was not serious and it did not require treatment. The collar, designed to prevent snares from strangling the dogs, had done its job, it had saved her life.

Alpha female Socks, who turns seven this year and, all being well, will have her fifth litter in 2017 making her the most successful female that the team have ever tracked.

It is only with your help that Socks survived. Without you we could not fund the anti-poaching units which since January, have made more than 160 patrols and recovered more than 500 snares, or buy the anti-snare collars which protect these precious dogs so successfully.

Thank you for saving Socks and the generation of dogs she has helped nurture. 

Socks with her pups before she was collared
Socks with her pups before she was collared
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The Broken Rifle pack
The Broken Rifle pack

Snares are one of the biggest, indiscriminate killers of wildlife across Africa. Shockingly, an estimated 90% of animals snared are left to rot as the wires tighten to cause a slow and agonising death. That is why one of the most important jobs we fund is the removal of these silent killers - many set by locals for bush meat, many by poachers.

Every day, as part of their regular patrols, the anti-poaching units in Zimbabwe look for and remove snares; in 2016, they recovered over 1,100, in 2015 it was over 2,000. But, the areas they patrol and the distances that the painted dogs they protect cover, are vast and snares remain a major threat to the vulnerable populations of dogs in our care.

Earlier this year the team received news that a painted dog had been spotted with a raw and bloody wound around its neck - hallmark traits of a snare injury. They knew they had to act quickly before the snare tightened or the wound became infected but, finding and removing a snare from an animal that regularly travels many kilometers a day is never straight forward.

The team covered 100km from their base over five days as they searched for the injured dog. But, with only 150 left in the Hwange area, every painted dog is precious and they were not going to give up easily.

Eventually they spotted her, Cusp, a female from a nine-strong pack they knew as 'Broken Rifle'. Despite the livid, red wound around her neck she was keeping up with the pack which was stopping for no one! The team regrouped and decided that the best course of action was to wait until Cusp came to water to drink, dart her, remove the snare and treat the wound.

As soon as the opporunity arose the team moved in. Experts in this sorry work Cusp was soon unconscious and stabilized and the team were pleased to see no signs of infection and that the lesions were only surface deep and had not yet damaged her tendons or trachea. One of her teeth was broken, probably a result of frantically biting the snare, but Cusp would survive.

With the copper wire removed and the wound cleaned, Cusp was given a precautionary dose of antibiotics and a vitamin B injection to boost her immune system. Waking almost immediately the revival drug was administered she staggered off to recover in the shade. In the late afternoon she would wake up and hoo-call to her pack to re-join them snare free.

It is only with your support that the teams can carry out these rescues, ensure that everyone is properly trained and that they have the right equipment and medicines to save these rare animals.

Please, if you can, help us continue to fund the anti-poaching teams who remove the snares before these vulnerable and innocent victims suffer. Thank you.

  

Working to save Cusp
Working to save Cusp
Removing the copper snare from Cusp
Removing the copper snare from Cusp
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Organization Information

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Location: Guildford, Surrey - United Kingdom
Website:
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Twitter: @DSWFwildlife
Project Leader:
Theo Bromfield
Guildford, Surrey United Kingdom
$13,966 raised of $18,500 goal
 
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