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Painted dogs released into Mana Pools National Park

The Mpindo Pack of wild dogs housed in a boma at Wilderness Safaris Chikwenya Camp have been released into Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe.

The release took place on the 4th of September 2020. Initially due to be released in April, the alpha female was observed to be pregnant, so it was decided to delay the release until after the puppies were born, and strong enough to survive.

In February 2018, the pack was reported to be predating on goats belonging to the Mpindo community on the eastern boundary of Hwange. The Capmount Lodges and Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) captured the dogs in June and held them at the PDC rehabilitation centre before releasing them into a different area of the park. The dogs made a bee-line straight back to the Mpindo community.

In consultation with Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) it was decided that they should be relocated to another national park: Mana Pools.

Painted dogs in the Mana Pools. Photographs by Nicholas Dyer

There are no communities nearby Mana Pools, thus reducing the human-wildlife conflict, expand their range and revive the current declining wild dog population in Mana.

The 19-strong pack has remained fit and healthy thanks to the continued partnership of PDC, Wilderness Safaris and the Wilderness Wildlife Trust, which have been monitoring, providing food and logistical support to the project.

Peter Blinston, PDC Executive Director, says “We are thrilled that the pack has acclimatised to Mana so well. We are proud to continue working with Wilderness to ensure the pack will be at its optimum when released into the park from the boma. Keeping them for as long as we have has increased the likelihood of them staying here.”

“Together with Capmount Lodges and Painted Dog Conservation (PDC), we translocated the wild dogs from Hwange National Park in September 2019 to help mitigate the threat of human-wildlife conflict, as well as expand the range of this extraordinary Endangered species”, notes Dr Neil Midlane, Wilderness Safaris Group Sustainability Manager.

“With fewer than 7 000 wild dogs left in Africa, it is imperative that we continue to take proactive measures to help secure the future of the species. Ecotourism has been an important contributor to local economies and we need to do everything possible now to help keep it that way”.

“As a company that has been committed to driving sustainable ecotourism in Zimbabwe for over three decades, this project demonstrates Wilderness Safaris’ ongoing commitment to conserving and restoring Africa’s wilderness and wildlife, despite the current challenges facing the business.

“We are proud of our collective efforts and partnership with PDC, coming together at this time with creative solutions that will help ensure a sustainable future for the wildlife in these pristine wilderness concessions”, concludes Neil.

The 19-strong pack comprises three adults, six sub-adults and ten puppies.

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