On the main highway that runs between Zimbabwe’s Bulawayo and Victoria Falls, painted dogs are all too often run over and killed by speeding cars. So when the team at Painted Dog Conservation heard that a pack of six or eight dogs had been spotted along the road, they jumped into action. Two team members set off for Dopota, the town where the dogs had been reported, to look for the pack and get the details of the sighting from the community.
Dominic Nyathi, one of PDC’s conservation staff, knew that this was an opportunity to talk to Dopota’s villagers and local Police and National Parks and Forestry Commission officers about wider conservation and human wildlife conflict issues. In Zimbabwe, painted dogs are threatened not just by cars but also by snares that are set out to capture bush meat. Inspired by the information they had learned from Dominic, a group of more than twenty villagers went out into the bush and collected 19 snares. They explained that they wanted to be sure that the dogs would be safe if they passed by Dopota again.
Just a few nights later, Dopota villagers heard the distinctive hoo sound of painted dogs calling. Despite knowing that lions could be roaming at night, they ventured out to make sure that all was okay with what they had begun calling “their pack.” They were able to see one dog clearly and also saw the outlines of a few others through the thick, dark bush.
Since that night, the community hasn’t stopped helping their painted dogs. They have collected more than 200 snares in just a few weeks and have carried out more than 100 patrols. The people of Dopota are making their village and its surrounding area a safer place for painted dogs.
Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Deely