News from the Field: Mpindo Pack update
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) has just received some disheartening news from Zimbabwe. Despite the heroic efforts of our ground-based conservation partners, Painted Dog Conservation (PDC), the Mpindo pack has sadly been reduced to just six dogs, down from 19 since their release in September 2020.
The history of Mpindo pack
PDC was alerted to the Mpindo pack when they denned in a community on the periphery of Hwange National Park. The community called PDC requesting they remove the dogs due to the threats they pose to livestock.
The pack was relocated back into the safety net of the Hwange National Park only to return to the Mpindo community the following denning season. Again, instead of killing the dogs, the Mpindo community patiently asked our ground-based conservation partners to remove the dogs.
After PDC relocated the pack for the second time, a more permanent solution was needed. Mana Pools was deemed a suitable relocation site as the painted dog number had declined in the area. The pack was moved to Mana Pools in September 2019 and kept in a relocation boma until their release in September 2020. The original release date (April) was pushed back when Snowtail, the alpha female, produced 10 puppies in the release facility.
Mpindo pack update
Unfortunately, after their release, the pack suffered some early losses, with lions and spotted hyenas reducing the pack from 19 to 12. Lions and spotted hyena are the natural enemies of painted dogs. This seemed to push the Mpindo pack towards Dande near the Mozambican border where PDC lost track of them for a couple of weeks. Here, the pack suffered terrible losses – the alpha female, Snowtail, and at least one of her pups were killed by the local community.
A team from PDC was quickly sent to capture the remaining dogs. The five dogs have now been recaptured and are now safely back at the release facility in Hwange. The PDC team was unable to recapture the alpha male, Jonathan at the time. They are hopeful he will seek out the company of other painted dogs in the area due to their sociable natures if they are not successful in recapturing him.
With only 6,500 painted dogs left in Africa, they are arguably one of the world’s most endangered carnivores. This three-year-long effort to save the Mpindo pack highlights some of the threats painted dogs face across Africa, like the human-wildlife conflict.
The resilience of painted dogs and the dedication of the PDC team will ensure that dogs have a future in Zimbabwe. Whilst the offspring still survive the Mpindo pack’s journey is far from over. You can be part of their future by making a painted dog adoption today.
Community and conservation
DSWF believes that communities neighbouring wildlife habitats should be placed at the heart of wildlife conservation efforts if we are to ensure wild animals and people can coexist harmoniously. Wildlife education amongst local communities contiguous to painted dog populations is critical if we are to turn the tide on extinction, and the Mpindo community is a case study in point.
For over 20 years DSWF has supported an immersive bush camp on the border of Hwange run by our ground-based conservation partners. Each year this education camp reaches over 600 vulnerable children who share their homes with wildlife.
The Mpindo community knew of the importance of painted dogs because of our bush camp and elected not to kill them, but rather seek help from our ground-based conservation partners.
Whilst it was tragic that members of the pack succumbed to a community not engaged in conservation, it is worth noting they were twice spared by a community benefiting from our conservation efforts in Hwange.
Read more about DSWF’s vital conservation work protecting painted dogs.
To learn more about painted dogs and their threats, read this insightful article by Linus Hiscox.
Support us in our mission to fight, protect and engage on behalf of painted dogs and other endangered species across Africa and Asia by donating today.