By Peter Blinston, Painted Dog Conservation Managing Director
We recently received a report that painted dogs had killed a goat in a nearby village. This was not the first time we had received such a report. However, the immediate investigation by our staff member Jealous, did confirm that, sadly, this was the first recorded case in more than twenty years of painted dogs actually killing livestock in our core operating area. The previous reports had all been false alarms.
I was obviously quite concerned and quizzed Jealous on the reaction of the villager to the loss of his goat, and sought his advice on offering to pay the villager compensation. After meeting again with the owner of the goat, Jealous was pleased to report back that the villager was not at all concerned.
Rather, he had spoken highly of Painted Dog Conservation, of how much PDC does for his village and the community at large. He knew that the dogs were the reason PDC was committed to his community, so the dogs were welcome in his eyes and one goat was nothing!
This is a small step but a perfect example of why we do what we do. Sure, the cost of replacing one goat is negligible compared to our annual budgets but the attitude towards the dogs, that acceptance and tolerance of their presence is priceless.
This is also why our Education Outreach Program engages children and parents in activities in their immediate surroundings. Our belief is that people will care about the dogs, the wildlife and wilderness areas if they act as stewards of their own school grounds or village environments.
Time will tell if we are on the right path. But stories such as the one above and recent celebrations by local communities to commemorate World Environment Day and World Day, which were well-attended by enthusiastic children and adults alike, are, indeed, a promising sign.
As a follow up to the incident of the goat, I had a meeting with Forggie and Wilton to discuss what our next step should be and we unanimously agreed to invite the village school where the goat was killed to become part of our Bush Camp program in 2014. Stay tuned for the details of our formal invitation to them.