Home News Anti-Poaching Painted Dog Pack Returns to the Wild

Painted Dog Pack Returns to the Wild

A family of painted dogs rescued by our project partners in Zimbabwe have been successfully returned to the wild where they belong.

Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) rescued the dogs at the end of June, which involved digging the family out of their den, deep underground. The pack of 2 adults named Snow-Tail and Jonathan and their eight pups have been in PDC’s Rehabilitation Facility for the past 6 months.

The painted dog pack were transported by trailer to a safe release site. Image credit: Vuk Valcic | Painted Dog Conservation.

This week the family was deemed ready for release – so the dogs were safely caught in nets and anaesthetised by a specialist vet. The adults were then fitted with tracking collars.

The adults were fitted with tracking collars. Image credit: Painted Dog Conservation.

All ten dogs were transported in a trailer for release inside the safety of the protected area Hwange National Park, far from the communal land where they were originally found.

The pack were released in Hwange National Park. Image credit: Painted Dog Conservation.

Peter Blinston, PDC’s Executive Director said: “We released the painted dogs at the Jambili pan. We believe the place has reasonable prey base and will help fast track the adaptation of the pack to their life back in the wild.

“This is an area that is not known for its lion or hyena populations and in between different packs of dogs that we know, so they will find their place here hopefully.”

Painted dogs have a large home range and it’s very likely they will move on from the release site to establish their own territories. The tracking collars fitted on the adult dogs will allow the PDC team to follow the pack’s progress.

The dogs ran off into the bush near a water hole. Image credit: Painted Dog Conservation.

“We know there will be mortality – that’s the tough part of these exercises,” added Peter. “But this is conservation on the front line. We rescued these pups and adults and now we’ve got them back in the wild where they belong.

“Life is much safer for them in our rehab centre, but they belong in the wild. That’s where they are now and we wish them the best of luck.”

The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) funds PDC’s work with communities in Zimbabwe to conserve the species in one of its last strongholds. DSWF funds vital anti-poaching work and education programmes to encourage tolerance for the dogs from local communities and land owners.

Painted dog puppy lifted from deep den as rescued
The pack were rescued in the summer from their underground den.

Painted dogs – also known as African wild dogs or painted wolves – are unique to Africa and are among the continent’s most endangered species. Fewer than 3-5,000 of the animals survive in viable populations in just four countries. Since the PDC project began in 1992, dog numbers have risen from 400 to approximately 750 in Zimbabwe today.

Painted dog puppy held as rescued

The BBC’s Dynasties programme has highlighted the problems faced by painted dogs and helped the world understand more about this complex and fascinating species.

DSWF’s #ProtectThePack appeal has already raised several thousand pounds to help our work protecting these incredible and endangered animals.

Find out more about our work protecting painted dogs.

You can help secure their future by supporting our #ProtectThePack appeal here. Thank you!

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