The greatest threat to painted dogs isn’t from large predators, or other natural causes—it’s from humans. Because of this, we put a lot of energy into working with local communities, farmers, and children to improve perception and awareness of the painted dogs. Community development and outreach efforts such as these are one of our key priorities.
children's bush camp
Every year, we host almost 1,000 local grade-six children at our Iganyana Children’s Bush Camp. Each stays four days and gets to see painted dogs in a way they never have before—up close and personal at our Rehabilitation Facility! The camp is based in teak woodlands on the border of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, and attendance is free of charge for the local children. Since the program began, more than 11,000 children have attended our Camp. We’re immensely proud of this initiative, and how it directly helps local children, communities, and painted dogs in one fell swoop. This year (2018), the Iganyana Children's Bush Camp is 15! and we are running the #SponsorAChild SaveThePaintedDog campaign for the whole month of May to raise $10000 for this camp.
Great life changing stories have come out of this. One such is Belinda's story. At 11 years old, Belinda attended the Children's Bush Camp where she first connected with her country’s spectacular wildlife and grasped the importance of conservation.
At home she found a kudu (antelope) entangled in a snare. The animal was still alive and relatively unharmed. Belinda ran home for help, convincing her parents to not only release the kudu, but to track down and arrest the poacher who set the trap.
Bush Camp had made her a passionate champion for wildlife. For more information and updates, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
"HAVING SEEN THE LOCAL WILDLIFE, EXPERIENCED THE EXCITEMENT AND BEAUTY OF THE WILD AFRICAN SAVANNAH, AND GAINED AN EXPERIENTIAL UNDERSTANDING OF ITS COMPLEX ECOLOGY, BUSH CAMP GRADUATES HAVE MORE OF AN EMOTIONAL INVESTMENT IN CARING FOR IT.” — BRUCE LOMBARDO, BUSH CAMP FOUNDER
No matter how much progress we make with the dogs, it’s no use if we work in isolation from the surrounding communities. We prioritise teaching locals the importance of caring for their local environment and ecosystem; many locals lack the knowledge and awareness of how to conserve while also caring for themselves and their families (issues include poor water conservation, environmental degradation, and poor farming practices).
We believe that engaging children and adults in these villages is the right way to stop these problems recurring in subsequent generations. To achieve this, we visit schools in areas bordering Hwange National Park to teach about wildlife and conservation, we build nature corners within local schools to nurture students' love of nature and form conservation clubs to share knowledge about conservation challenges.
We aim to directly benefit local people by providing a way for them to earn more and access nutritionally balanced and reliable meals. To these ends, we build and establish nutritional gardens with irrigation systems next to boreholes in the local communities whose children attend Bush Camp.
With your help, we aim to drill and manage more boreholes.
Gender equality and female empowerment is important to us; we work to support, develop, and promote women’s groups based around sustainable natural resource use and management, and offer ways to empower women through garden projects and income derived from sales.
“IT'S NOT ABOUT WHETHER LOCAL PEOPLE GET 3 MEALS A DAY —RATHER, IT’S IF THEY GET 7 MEALS A WEEK. AND EVERYTHING HAS A KNOCK-ON EFFECT. PDC’S NEW BOREHOLES ALLOW FOR WATER, NEW GARDENS, and FOOD.” — PETER BLINSTON, PDC Executive director
Our Interpretive Hall opened in 2007, and our aim is to educate visitors on the plight of the painted dogs. The hall raises awareness about the painted dogs, promotes the nearby Hwange National Park (one of the species’ last remaining refuge), and offers souvenirs from snare wire art. Visitors can speak to knowledgeable staff, view artwork, wander through a system of trails to view painted dogs housed at the adjacent rehabilitation facility, explore the surrounding teak woodland, and gain a very real sense of the world of the painted dog.
Iganyana Art Centre
Our Iganyana Art Centre was established in 2003, and has been fully operational in the town of Dete (on the border of Hwange National Park) since 2004. The centre houses administration, crafts, materials, equipment, training, and facilities for youth and adult art projects. We ensure everything produced is of high quality, and artists are paid per piece for their products; many artisans have developed their own unique signature style as well as their own designs!
"The primary goal of the centre is to bring immediate financial benefit to our artists. A second—but equally important!—goal is to teach and encourage conservation, through the sustainable use of natural resources in the design of our products and the materials used to make them.” — Wendy Blakeley, Iganyana Art Centre Coordinator
Wire snares are one of the key killers in illegal poaching, and are difficult to prevent. To highlight this insidious danger, we commissioned local artists to create sculptures from the snare wires collected by our anti-poaching units, turning something negative into something truly wonderful. The beautiful creations were sold at Christie’s Auction House in London, and the proceeds used to raise awareness, support our anti-poaching efforts, and support their creators.
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