Further demonstrating its commitment to offering life-journeys with purpose, Wilderness Safaris – Africa’s leading sustainable ecotourism operator, specialising in memorable wildlife experiences in some of the continent’s most remote and pristine areas – has partnered with renowned NGO, Painted Dog Conservation, to help drive the conservation of this endangered species in Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools and Hwange National Parks. African wild dogs – sometimes called African hunting dogs – are beautiful, unique, and fascinating social animals. They are also one of the most endangered species in Africa; fewer than 7000 painted dogs are left across the entire continent, making it imperative to manage wild dog conservation.
Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) expanded its work into Mana Pools in 2010, with the objective of gaining insight into the demography, ecology and genetic composition of the painted dog population in the Middle Zambezi. The establishment of a new research base at Nyamepi will enable researchers to process various samples on site on a daily basis, including faecal samples, which will help PDC build a picture of the diet base of the dogs in the valley. “This will greatly improve the efficiency of our data collected at Mana,” said Peter Blinston, PDC Executive Director. “We are grateful for the ongoing support from Wilderness Safaris, and really believe that our partnership will make a positive impact to both conservation and community empowerment – ideals that form a strong part of both of our organisational cultures.”
Wilderness Safaris has been committed to driving sustainable ecotourism in Zimbabwe for some two decades, with Conservation forming a vital component of its “4Cs” sustainability ethos (the others being Commerce, Community and Culture). As the leading wild dog conservation NGO in Zimbabwe, PDC already monitors more than six packs of painted dogs on a daily basis across Hwange, and employs 60 people from the local villages to run its conservation, education and community outreach programmes. Guests of Wilderness Safaris can also get involved with the initiative, as part of a “citizen science” project that gives them the opportunity to actively take part in the research being conducted on the ground.
PDC will be giving Wilderness Safaris the ID files of all the wild dog packs in both Hwange and Mana, so that both guides and guests will be able to assist them by taking photos, dates and times of each sighting. “Log stats of sightings provide critical information for us; better still if they are immediately reported, particularly in the case of injured animals. We are also working on image recognition software which, once complete, will give guests open access to uploading their photos and sighting information online,” Peter added.
Wilderness Safaris will be donating the funds to cover a month of PDC’s operating costs at Nyamepi, and will continue to raise awareness about the plight of the wild dogs, to help drive critical conservation efforts going forward.
Wilderness Safaris – www.wilderness-safaris.com
Painted Dog Conservation – www.painteddog.org