African wild dogs, also known as painted dogs, are incredibly social creatures. They live in carefully organized packs in which each dog has a specified job, from hunter to pup baby-sitter. The dogs rely on each other and are one of the only wild species to care for their sick and old.
African wild dogs used to range across Africa, with 500,000 dogs in 39 countries. Impacted by poaching, road kills, and mining and logging that destroy habitat, now only 6,600 dogs are thought to remain. Zimbabwe, where Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) is headquartered, is one of the last strongholds.
Unemployment levels in Zimbabwe are extremely high, meaning people rely on illegal hunting – which threatens the dogs – for food and income. In addition to working on direct threats like snaring, Painted Dog Conservation works closely with local people to provide income from other sources and to develop in local people an appreciation for the dogs and the value of conservation.
"The sole purpose of our existence is to create an environment where the dogs can thrive."
- Peter Blinston
A Unique Conservation Approach
PDC’s anti-poaching units remove illegal snares that are set for bushmeat but end up killing painted dogs. The anti-poaching units also provide jobs to local people– PDC is the largest employer in its immediate area, with more than 70 people earning an income through PDC's work.
Monitoring & Rehabilitation
Monitoring radio-collared dogs allows PDC to identify problems the dogs face and to develop methods that keep packs and individual dogs healthy. For example, when PDC saw road kills rise, they put up new road signs and fit dogs with reflective collars, reducing mortalities by half. PDC also cares for injured or orphaned dogs it finds at its rehabilitation center.
Outreach & Education
Bush Camp, an environmental education program for local sixth-graders, instills a love of nature and African wild dogs in children from an early age. More than 9,000 children have attended Bush Camp. PDC also helps community members increase their incomes by training them how to farm sustainably and make sellable art from collected snare wire.
African wild dogs in Zimbabwe, an increase of 300 since PDC began its work
wire snares removed by PDC anti-poaching units
Peter Blinston fell in love with African wild dogs while watching documentaries in his native England. He volunteered for PDC from home in England for two years and then initially moved to Zimbabwe as an unpaid six-month volunteer. He has now been there for twelve years and serves as Managing Director. Peter has helped translate the initial vision for PDC into effective programs.
How You Can Help
$60 will send a local child to PDC’s bush camp for four days.
$1,200 will feed the dogs in PDC’s rehabilitation facility for one year.
Donations of any amount will support PDC’s anti-poaching units in their work.
When you designate your donation to a specific species, 100% of your donation will go directly to the field to support this species.
The world-class Houston Zoo introduces over 2.3 million guests a year to animal ambassadors, educates its visitors about conservation, and suggests actions that the public can take in their everyday lives to protect nature.