Visiting the Painted Dog Conservation Project in Zimbabwe

This post was written by Ewaso Lions team members Jeneria, who recently visited Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) in Zimbabwe. Ewaso Lions and PDC are both WCN Conservation Partners. WCN sponsored this trip so that Ewaso Lions could learn from the experience of PDC, focusing on PDC's Children’s Bush Camp. This will help Ewaso Lions as they shape and grow their new Lion Kids Camp.

I was very excited when I learned that I was going to visit a conservation project in Zimbabwe called Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) . I found out that the project I was going to visit did a lot of community work including the Bush Camp, which brings children from local schools and educates them on wildlife conservation.

When I flew from Nairobi to Livingstone in Zambia I was a little nervous – it was only my second time to fly in a plane alone. When I arrived, I met Wilton, who is the manager of the Bush Camp. We went across the border to Zimbabwe and drove to the camp. Wilton introduced me to the rest of his team and welcomed me to the “Iganyana” Bush Camp. It was a great way to start the sharing of knowledge.

During the Bush Camp, the children learned a lot of things. They were really excited to learn about the history of the painted dogs and sad to know they are disappearing from our planet. We were all very curious to know the major problems the dogs are facing and learned that these problems are habitat loss and also snaring.

The kids were taught how to use computers in PDC’s impressive computer lab. The children were shown how to collar and track dogs and also practiced drawing them. We visited the rehabilitation centre where PDC keeps orphan dogs and met two people who work in the centre. They explained how rehabilitation works and showed us a dog that had been caught by a snare and brought in to recover. We also visited Hwange National Park – I was lucky to go twice to see the dogs – once with the kids and also with dog tracker MK on another day. MK is the best tracker for dogs and showed me how to identify individual dogs. He told me his own story of how he started with the project and was very passionate.

I really like the book that PDC have done for the children – it is a logbook of their time during the Bush Camp. I hope we can do something similar for our own Lion Kids Camp as I think what PDC has done is fantastic.

I really found this visit to another wildlife conservation project to be a huge success and learned a lot about painted dogs. I also saw how quickly the kids learned about dogs and how they saw themselves as future conservationists and environmental leaders. It was great that I was able to share knowledge with my fellow Partners. Being with PDC has given me many ideas about our Lion Kids Camp to educate the Samburu children on conservation issues. One challenge I see is that we would find it hard to follow-up with the children when they go on to secondary school in the way PDC follows up with each child. But I am ready for the challenge.