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"Everything is about the dogs. Our aim is to demonstrate that a conservation organisation such as PDC can and does bring benefits to the communities in many different ways and we are here because of the dogs. We have an approach of provide people with a fishing rod rather than just give them fish."

Peter Blinston
Managing Director, Painted Dog Conservation

PDC's Community Development program combines Conservation Education and Natural Resources Development, Use and Management with the hope of bringing direct and real benefit to the local peoples in the form of increased livelihood opportunities.

  • Focus is on the 5 local communities whose children attend the Bush Camp.
  • PDC has identified limited environmental awareness and a lack of economic opportunities as significant factors threatening the future of painted dogs and the communities they co exist with.
  • The goal is to increase the numbers of functional boreholes by eight in the five operational areas by drilling new ones and managing in order to boost food security.
  • Our Community Development Officer (CDO) works with women from the communities to establish Nutritional Gardens adjacent to the eight boreholes. Utilizing live fencing and filter irrigation systems.
  • With a focus of Women's Groups, our CDO works to develop and promote enterprises based on sustainable natural resource use and management.
  • The CDO's goal is to increase food security, nutritional health and household income levels in the five operational areas.
  • To facilitate capacity building at local level to enhance planning and implementation of Community Based Natural Resources Management.


Pilot Project: Lupote Village

Lupote Village borders Hwange National Park and as such is located in a human wildlife conflict zone. It is situated in a Kalahari sand ecosystem - a poor farming area with erratic rainfall and poor, infertile soil. The community suffers from malnutrition and poverty due to lack of economic development, factors causal to relatively high ocurrence of HIV / AIDS. Historically, Lupote has been a hot bed of illegal poaching activity, which threatens the future of painted dogs and their habitat.

In 2004, PDC secured funding to drill a borehole at Lupote School and thus provide a secure source of water, which in turn facilitated the development of a nutritional garden. Utilizing skill sharing, conservation education and training the garden aimed to provide the community with a reliable food source. The goal was to reduce the reliance on illegal bush meat and to improve overall levels of health. An additional bonus was the production of cash crops, which helped alleviate economic hardships.

Fully operational now, the Lupote Garden Project is self sustainable after only three years.


Program Benefits to Communities

  • It is our belief that conservation is futile if local communities are not active participants in the conservation effort. This is particularly salient as more often than not the survival of the focal animal hinges on local knowledge, positive attitude and assistance from rural communities.
  • The program benefits both the communities and the environment as interventions are focused towards healing of the soils, rehabilitating the decayed areas and running income generating ventures.
  • The program aims to improve food security and provide an alternative protein source to reduce reliance on the bush meat trade precipitated by a ready market by the poor.
  • In the wake of HIV/AIDS pandemic, nutritional gardens serve a purpose of providing necessary food supplements for balanced diets integral to good health and basically boosting of the immune system.
  • By targeting women the project enhances opportunities for gender equality by empowering women through income from garden produce sales.

Education/Schools project/ Bishop Gilpin Primary School, London SW19 

Bishop Gilpin Primary School in Wimbledon, south west London, has been raising money to support a poor, rural primary school and provide schooling for both primary and secondary-aged children in Zimbabwe since 2009. This relationship is facilitated by Painted Dog Conservation, which works in partnership with Bishop Gilpin Primary School to ensure that their funds and support gets directly to those that need it most. The school calls it's fund-raising project, Mabale+, as it was initially formed to just provide essential teaching materials for Mabale Primary School, but has since been extended to provide educational sponsorships for children from all 19 schools in the region, plus raise money for Bush Camp visits and more. 

Bishop Gilpin's school community has raised more than £5,000 over the years, money that has been used by PDC to not only provide teaching materials but to get the school connected to the electricity, supply new windows and doors and carry out other essential building repairs. Bishop Gilpin is currently raising money to build a new teacher's house at Mabale.

In addition to the fundraising, Bishop Gilpin's children have been exchanging 'pen pal' letters with Mabale children for the past four years, with children forging friendships and learning about each others cultures and lives. While life in Wimbledon - known internationally for its tennis championship - is a world away from life in Mabale, the children focus on their many similarities: their love of sport, their families, pets, and which subjects they like most at school.

Working in partnership with PDC, Bishop Gilpin's school community is supporting the education of children in rural Zimbabwe, helping communities forge stronger links and gaining wider appreciation of PDC's work in the region, while children in the UK also learn about the importance of conservation and community support. 

Each year a member of the PDC team visits Bishop Gilpin school with tales from Mabale, Bush Camp and the dogs, an event which is enjoyed by the children and PDC alike. Children have gone on to create projects on, and write presentations about, Mabale and PDC, with one child in Year 5 urging others in her class to get involved in conservation by supporting the dogs and PDC.