GABORONE, BOTSWANA – Further demonstrating its commitment to offering life-journeys with Purpose, Wilderness Safaris Zimbabwe 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.
“We have worked closely with Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) in Hwange for 20 years, and are thrilled to support their ongoing work in Mana Pools with the establishment of a research base at Nyamepi. With fewer than 7 000 wild dogs left in Africa, it is imperative for us to continue working closely together in both Hwange and Mana to manage wild dog conservation.
We were also proud to donate the funds to cover a month of PDC’s operating costs at Nyamepi, as well as the cost of a collar, at the end of last year, as a gift of appreciation for the ongoing support we receive from our trade partners”, commented Dean Morton, Wilderness Safaris Zambezi Operations Manager.
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 new base will enable the researchers to process various samples on site on a daily basis, including fecal 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.
“As more and more of our guests want to know exactly how their journeys are making a positive impact, we have introduced the concept of ‘citizen science’, giving them the opportunity to actively take part in the research being conducted on the ground”, Dean added.
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.
“We are looking forward to working closely with the PDC team to raise funds and as much awareness about the plight of wild dogs as possible, and to help drive their critical conservation efforts going forward”, Dean concluded.