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"Our Rehabilitation Facility allows us to deal with any eventuality concerning sick, injured or orphaned painted dogs"

Peter Blinston
Managing Director, Painted Dog Conservation

Narrative

The PDC Rehabilitation Facility became operational in October 2002. Designed and built under the supervision of John Lemon, the facility allows the organisation to deal effectively with any eventuality concerning compromised or translocated dogs. A main enclosure, 1,970 feet in diameter, a 330 feet in diameter medium term enclosure and a small intensive management enclosure, are all linked via a series of raceways to facilitate the movement of individuals with minimum handling.


Goals and Objectives

  • The facility was constructed as part of the National Conservation Strategy for the species.
  • The rationale behind this is based on the organisations ethos that animals in the wild should not suffer and so where such suffering is identified it should be ameliorated.
  • A prime objective is to provide a safe recovery area for dogs with injuries that would otherwise render them vulnerable in the wild.
  • Research has shown that the dogs are obligate co-operators, thus the loss of one individual can affect survival of the whole pack.
  • In the wild, while injured dogs are recuperating, these dogs are a burden on their packs not only from the point of the loss of an able helper, but as a consequence of the need to assist that individual.
  • The ultimate goal is to return the individual to its pack once it is fully recovered and can once more make a valuable contribution to their family unit.
  • PDC has had to deal with pups orphaned as a consequence of natural or human-induced or created events, thus a further objective of the facility is pack formation of none related individuals.
  • The facility has been designed to rotate individuals through all enclosures, which is a recognised procedure essential for pack formation. The ultimate goal is to reintroduce these individuals back into the wild.
  • The third and final objective of the facility is to provide a half way house for packs translocated for their own safety as a consequence of hostile landowners. The facility holds the pack in a safe environment for an extended period of time prior to the ultimate goal of releasing them back into the wild.
  • The addition of a squeeze cage in 2005 facilitates the administration of any necessary drugs and sample taking.

 

Conservation Impact

The facility has huge significance for the species both from a point of view of keeping numbers up, as well as ensuring that whole packs are not decimated. This significance is endorsed by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (dept National Parks) who see the facility as being an essential element in the National Management Plan for the species. The rehabilitation facility also serves as an important part of PDC's education program. Organized visits with the Children's Bush Camp and the community help to educate and improve local perceptions of the dogs.

The well-publicised socio-economic situation in Zimbabwe is placing an even greater strain on the countries natural resources. Poaching remains a constant threat to all wildlife, but in particular the painted dogs. Confusion and uncertainty prevail on many private wildlife estates, thus increasing the need for active conservation management strategies, which include such a rehabilitation / holding facility for this highly endangered species.

 

The Next Phase

  • Construction of a Veterinary Clinic. Here injured dogs will be treated on site rather than having to endure a four-hour journey to the nearest veterinary practice in the town of Bulawayo.
  • A laboratory for processing samples will be housed at the clinic
  • Fridges and freezers for storage of these samples will also be housed in the clinic.
  • The clinic will also serve as an office for the rehab staff and provide a suitable reception area for visitors
  • A cold room will form part of the clinic construction for the safe storage of meat and food supplies for the dogs.