Six days of relentless searching in scorching temperatures. Six days of false alarms and close calls. That’s how the team at Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) tracked down Cusp, one of the 700 painted dogs left in Zimbabwe. Unbeknownst to Cusp, PDC was trying to save her life.
A few days, earlier Cusp had been caught in a poacher’s snare, a circle of copper wire set to catch a small antelope. A lack of rainfall and poor crop yields has led to farmers relying on such bushmeat for food. Consequently, snares have become pervasive and painted dogs routinely get caught in them, suffering agonizing death or lethal infections if their wounds go untreated. PDC makes it their mission to find these dogs and remove the snares. After nearly a week of non-stop reconnaissance, PDC finally located Cusp; her neck was deeply lacerated. The team cut the wire, cleaned her wound, boosted her full of antibiotics, and monitored her progress from afar. This was the first of six snaring interventions that PDC conducted this year.
With so few left, every painted dog is indispensable. As the alpha female of her pack, Cusp is particularly important. Alphas are the only females in a pack that have puppies, without them the pack disbands. That snare was not only killing Cusp, it was taking down her entire pack. Today, apart from a scar banding her neck, Cusp has made a full recovery and recently gave birth to 12 puppies. Several packs in the area have birthed a dozen or so pups this year. This is a good indication that after such devastating incidences with snares, the future for painted dogs is bright.
We extend heartfelt thanks to Imvelo Safari Lodges for their instrumental role in helping to rescue Cusp.