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Painted dog update

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Earlier this year, you helped us to raise a staggering £20,000 in support of painted dogs and their environment through our Big Give Green Match Fund Appeal. These crucial funds have enabled our ground-based conservation partners to carry out vital work in protecting over 14,000 sq km of prime wildlife habitat in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. 

Painted dog populations currently remain stable across the region and we’re delighted to share the following six-month update with you from Executive Director of Painted Dog Conservation, Peter Blinston.

Poaching and snaring have remained high across the Hwange National Park. However, funding from David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) has helped to combat this effectively. As well as supporting the successful removal of 6,000 snares between April and October, funds generated through the Big Give campaign have enabled our teams on the ground to mobilise resources to respond to threats and challenges including the protection of painted dog den sites, which are often located in difficult terrain. 

DSWF supports vital awareness and education programmes to encourage the protection of local wildlife and it has been wonderful to see a group of volunteers from the Mabale community team up with anti-poaching units to conduct patrols together across the wider Hwange National Park area.

Image credit: Nicholas Dyer

These volunteers are given training as well as a daily stipend to thank them for their efforts and to help support their families. This group now includes over 45 individuals, providing an effective deterrent to poachers in the area by having more boots on the ground. This has also led to an increased number of snares being removed from the area, as well as boosting relationships with local communities and furthering peaceful coexistence with wildlife. 

Inflation and the rising cost of fuel continue to pose a challenge for our teams on the ground who cannot afford to cut back on fuel usage, as this would reduce the number of patrols and area covered. This would likely result in increased poaching and habitat destruction through reduced ranger presence. Through DSWF’s long term support, we remain confident that existing and ongoing funding will enable the continuation of patrols without having to make cutbacks which could be detrimental to the environment and painted dog populations. 

Over the summer, our partners continued to run their annual Bush Camps for children. This four-day residential camp teaches young people, aged 11-12 years old, about biodiversity, the wildlife they live alongside, its importance and how they can protect it. By fostering an emotional connection with nature among children, we can help to inspire the next generation of wildlife guardians.

Image credit: Nicholas Dyer

The camp has been running for nearly 20 years and has seen over 20,000 children pass through, many of whom continue to be involved in wildlife protection through the community anti-poaching team. With the economic crisis hitting Zimbabwe hard over the past six months, DSWF funding has been vital in the continuation of these Bush Camps, as inflation has almost doubled the cost of running this initiative. 

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, children have continued to be incentivised to protect nature and encouraged to spread awareness within their communities about the importance of habitat protection and wildlife conservation. 

To support the continued protection of painted dogs in the wild, please consider donating £3 a month: https://davidshepherd.org/donations/donate-painteddogs/

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