Peter Blinston on Painted Dog Conservation
‘Saving painted dogs, really it’s all about helping people.’ – Peter Blinston
A proud species who need a little help
Painted Dogs are almost as rare as the icon of endangered species; the Giant Panda. Habitat loss, predator control killing and disease have all been significant in the rapid decimation of their numbers.
Painted Dogs are an admiral and proud species and their population has suffered predominantly due to their increasing interaction with human populations.
Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) protects the painted dog (Lycaon pictus) in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in Africa with a conservation model of education, local community and international support. PDC UK supports PDC, by fund and awareness raising in the UK, focussing on local education activities.
Painted Dog Conservation UK take donations using the ever popular JustGiving platform. Donate at https://www.justgiving.com/pdcuk
How can your donation help?
£20 – One child’s visit for 4 days in the Bush Camp
£100 – All the kit needed for a field worker (Boots, overalls, sleeping bag, jersey, hat & ruck sack)
£200 – One protective ‘Painted Dog’ anti-snare collar
£400 – One computer for the new ITC Centre
£600 – The spare parts needed for one vehicle per annum
£700 – The monthly salary of an anti-poaching unit of eight men
£1,000 – The fuel needed for one vehicle per annum
£1,000 – One local school’s visit to the Bush Camp for 4 days
£1,500 – Builds a teacher’s house which encourages them to stay in the rural community
Donate at https://www.justgiving.com/pdcuk
The Eyespot Story
Deep beneath the ground, in a teak woodland near Hwange National Park, lies a den with 10 small painted dog puppies. This is the true story of one of those puppies, a heroic little fellow named Eyespot of the Abakwenyana Pack.
Though only 2 weeks old, the puppies have begun the weaning process. Even now, Eyespot is as eager for meat as he is for milk. The rest of the pack has left for their afternoon hunt, leaving Necklace with the pups for the last time. Tomorrow, faster than she would have liked, Necklace must leave the pups and join her mate Bobtail, the pack’s alpha male, on the hunt. Due to recent deaths in the pack, her skill and leadership will be needed to hunt effectively enough to feed the rapidly growing pups.
The hunters have killed a duiker and are returning to regurgitate meat for the puppies and their babysitter. Eyespot’s brother Arrow is the boldest of the puppies and the first to bolt from the group. He is named after the white arrowhead on his shoulder. To communicate, painted dogs use many different calls and behaviours. Arrow lowers his head and wags his tail, making a special food-begging call to tell his uncle he is hungry. All the dogs in the pack feed and care for the puppies of the alpha pair.
It is January and Hwange has been transformed into a lush green world once again by the coming of the rains. During this time of year, the pack ranges widely on hunts, sleeping in a different spot each day. This nomadic life exposes them to new dangers however. Recently, two of Eyespot’s sisters were killed by motorists when the pack crossed the Victoria Falls Road.
On this fateful day, while the pack is moving through the rural lands bordering the park, the two brothers decide to leave the Abakwenyana Pack, never to be part of it again. The dispersal of children from packs is an important part of painted dog behaviour.
Last week, researchers darted Eyespot and fitted him with a radio collar. This was a stressful event for Eyespot, but the act may just help save the pack. It means scientists can keep track of their movements and try to save them from poachers. Perhaps the Khanzingas are on the road to recovery.
Struggling to break free from the suffocating wire, Eyespot was able to escape thanks to his radio collar. Strengthened with thick leather and a steel band, the collar is specially designed by Painted Dog Conservation to protect the neck in case the wearer is snared. The collar saved Eyespot’s life, as he was able to pull the snare loose without being strangled. But what will become of Crescent and Arrow’s puppies, now that they have lost so many hunters, including their father, the alpha male?
Eyespot is proving to be an extraordinary hunter however! This morning, hunting in the mopane scrub, he has managed to kill a kudu by himself for the third time in August. This heroic feat will give the pack enough to eat for one more day. Unfortunately, because of such unnatural threats as wire snare poaching, painted dogs have become an endangered species on the edge of extinction.
Facts and figures
Click for larger image gallery
Donate at https://www.justgiving.com/pdcuk