Painted dogs are among the rarest of wild creatures – and they need your help!
There are just 6,500 left in the world, down from 500,000, and their numbers are dropping every day. In the wild, their biggest threat was lions – now it’s man! Their habitat is shrinking, and they are being snared in traps intended to capture other wild animals.
The situation is truly frightening!
700 painted dogs live in Zimbabwe – one of the few wilderness areas left that is big enough for them to survive. And this is where they are being wiped out by snares, set to catch other wild creatures, by hungry people.
Poverty and lack of employment in Zimbabwe is the cause. The official inflation rate is 471.1 percent! The people in communities surrounding protected wildlife areas have little or no money and poach in order to put food on the table. People are so desperate that they are snaring wild animals in the national parks just to eat, and painted dogs are innocent victims of these traps.
There are an estimated 3,000 snares scattered through Hwange’s 14,651 square kilometers (more than 5,600 square miles) of land, indiscriminately trapping any animal caught in one. Painted dogs are not deliberate targets but are snared accidentally. Dogs caught in these nightmare devices die horrible and slow deaths.
The situation is so serious that these animals could be extinct soon if we don’t act now.
3,000 snares set and only 6,500 painted dogs left in the world!
Snares are devices made from wire that form a circle that tightens when an unsuspecting animal puts its neck or leg in one. Snares are one of the cruelest ways to trap an animal, and the victims usually fight hard for days, before succumbing to terrible injuries.
Most people don’t realize that the dogs are highly sociable animals, and if one dog dies from being caught in a snare, it affects the whole pack – sometimes to the extent where the family structure collapses and pups die.
Painted dogs are not related to domestic dogs but share many mannerisms with them. They are highly sociable, intelligent, and even look after each other’s pups. If one dog becomes ill, the pack will take turns to care for the sick individual.
Beautiful, clever painted dogs are dying in slow, agonizing pain!
The Painted Dog Conservation (PDC), situated close to Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, works with between 150-200 painted dogs within the Hwange’s ecosystem. Saving them is enormously challenging. Rangers patrol vast areas looking for snared animals. When they find one that has a chance of life, the creature is darted and taken to PDC headquarters where it is treated until it can be returned to the wild.
Every single month, the rangers find at least one snared painted dog. Usually, the painted dogs can be returned to the wild within two weeks, but sometimes the poor creatures are crippled and would quickly be killed by lions if they were to be released back into the wild, and so they become permanent residents at PDC.
A major problem is that, because of the country’s economic challenges and COVID-19 lockdown, it has become extremely difficult to afford some essential goods (like medicines and darts) to care for injured dogs.
There is no doubt that painted dogs need our help! The first thing that we need to do is supply vital medications to treat rescued painted dogs. We desperately need to raise $6,000 (£4,500) to pay for these supplies.
We know our supporters will do all they can to save this iconic species from extinction, but it is not enough to rescue painted dogs from a snare, only for the poor creature to be released and trapped again. To solve this problem, PDC has employed a team of people from local villages and has taught them about conservation and snare removal. The villagers scour the wilderness for snares, destroy them and use the salvaged wire to make wire ornaments they sell to tourists. It is a measure of the magnitude of the economic challenges in Zimbabwe that even this small income is incentive enough to destroy snares.
Training, educating, and getting people enough to eat will equal no more snares.
Painted dogs are in grave danger if we don’t act now. We can only do something about it as a community, and these beautiful creatures need your help.