Organization of The Day: Painted Dog Conservation

Painted Dog Conservation

99% of the African Painted Dog population (also known as African Wild Dogs) has been lost in the last 100 years, dropping from half a million individuals to only 3,000 now remaining.  Today it is one of the rarest species in all of Africa.  The immense decline and vast extirpation (or local extinction) of these predatory animals is almost entirely due to human activities such as poaching for meat, revengeful killings, and vehicle-caused mortalities (road kills).  After studying these dogs for many years, heroic conservationist, Gregory Rasmussen, established the “Painted Dog Research” organization in 1992, which later became Painted Dog Conservation (PDC).  The headquarters border the Hwange National Park of Zimbabwe, a country that serves as one of the last remaining refuges for this species.

PDC has developed and implemented the most effective methods in wildlife conservation.  Five elements comprise its purpose: research, direct conservation of the dogs, conservation education, capacity building for the future, and community development.  Believing that the key to saving any threatened species is through directly involving local communities in conservation efforts, PDC’s education program strives to reconnect local people with their environment and positively influences their perceptions of and attitudes towards Painted Dogs. The organization’s community development initiatives seek to improve the quality of life for local people and offers sustainable alternatives to poaching.  PDC develops and implements many creative means for saving every individual dog that it can, using things like reflective radio collars and “Painted Dog Crossing” road signs to prevent road kill mortalities.

The organization uses a local lake island as one of the most innovative and fascinating approaches for the re-introduction of Painted Dogs.  PDC’s rehabilitation facility focuses all of its efforts on ensuring that injured dogs are returned to the wild, avoiding captivity at all costs, and has lead to the return of 25 dogs to the wild since 2003.  Three anti-poaching units are deployed with the mission of locating and dissolving all poaching efforts, and have removed over 12,000 poaching snares since 2001.  Uniquely, wires from these snares are used by local community members to create beautiful sculptures at PDC’s Art Centre and are sold to raise money to continue PDC’s efforts.  Most recently, PDC has been involved in a movement to shed light on the international trade of this critically endangered species, specifically the sale of wild individuals to zoos in China.  There is an imminent need to have this species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).  To say that Painted Dog Conservation’s significant contributions to wildlife conservation are invaluable would be a monstrous understatement.  Without PDC, Africa’s Painted Dogs would undoubtedly parish.

To learn more, visit their website

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