The K9 Patrol Dogs Roadshow Press Statement
Painted Dog Conservation (PDC), Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority (ZNPWA) , Forestry Commission (FC)and Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Dete conducted a series of K9 patrol dog awareness roadshows in communities neighboring Hwange National Park from the 20th to the 24th of March 2018, running under the theme “connecting people to conservation”. The objective of this strategic joint operation was to bring together wildlife conservation sector players in the area to speak in one voice against poaching and show the communities what we as sector players are doing to secure the wildlife heritage this region is endowed with.
The exercise which saw dogs performing formation drills, sniffing contraband, obedience, crawling, weaving, tracking and attacking techniques, covered the following communities, Chimwara, Gwaai, Mabale, Lupote, Chezhou, Makwandara, Mambanje, Dete and Cross-Dete. The community responded well in attendance.
The collaboration with government entities encouraged and helped to bring the best out of both parties. We are excited about the potential these collaborations have in spreading information to communities and one can not deny the benefits of economies of scale this entails, four organisations sharing a platform and driving important messages, especially zero tolerance to wildlife crime to communities surrounding Hwange National Parks
Our conservation model in anchored on working with communities in an effort to retard the rate at which the endangered species is moving towards extinction. They are involved in anti-poaching work in forestry, state, communal land and joint patrols with national parks. We have a children’s Bushcamp that brings 19 local primary school kids attending grade 6 for a four-day camp where they are taught pertinent conservation concepts that leave them better citizens and community members.
Head man, village heads, councilors and community dignitaries are among those who attended in solidarity with the cause as we showed our commitment, preparedness and zero tolerance to wildlife crimes stance in fighting the ill of poaching. This was a platform we used to connect people to conservation. Communities are critical stakeholders in natural resource management and more often than not they feel neglected in decision-making and progress in the management of the natural resources that are so close to them. The road show sought to involve these communities as partners in wildlife protection. It is through these communities that we can gather intelligence on poachers movements and people in possession of chemicals such as cyanide that have killed massive numbers of animals in the park in recent years.
Over 50 t-shirts bearing the theme and K9 dogs were distributed in the communities, 16 game drives were awarded to the roadshow environment and wildlife quiz winners and community volunteers identified by community members (courtesy of Zim Parks and PDC), fruit seedlings (courtesy of Forestry Commission) among other many more prizes.
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