Painted Dog Research Trust
African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus), also called painted wolves, are yet little known by the public. Listed as “endangered” on the IUCN Red List, they are among the rarest mammals in Africa.
The species is threatened by habitat fragmentation that increases conflicts with humans and especially shepherds. It is victim of snares, of collisions with vehicles, of poisoning, of infectious diseases transmitted by domestic dogs. Sub-populations with just a few dozen of individuals are particularly vulnerable in case of epidemics.
Formerly widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, painted dogs have now almost entirely disappeared from west and central Africa. Largest populations live in Bostwana, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, the Painted Dog Research Trust (PDRT), based near Victoria Falls, aims to conserve the species in an area that is home to about 350 individuals (50% of the Zimbabwean population).
The PDRT activities encompasses a holistic approach with several components:
- Research: African wild dogs are fitted with radio collars in order to study their movements, the way they use their habitat, their density, the population genetics… The aim is to develop models allowing future land use plans to be compatible with painted dog conservation.
- Direct conservation: the PDRT assists and rehabilitate injured painted dogs. It fights actively against poaching by putting anti-snare collars on painted dogs and by logistically assisting local initiatives through expertise or equipment.
- Education and capacity-building: primary and secondary schools in the project area, local communities and tourists are sensitized about the plight and the ecology of painted dogs. Members of local communities are involved in research activities and the construction of a conservation ecology center is planned.
- Community development: assistance with schooling, assistance with water supply…
La Palmyre Zoo supports the Painted Dog Research Trust since 2015.
© PDRT, F. Perroux.