Hunting Dog relocation in Zimbabwe on the drawing board

WILD DOG PACK RELOCATION PLANNED FROM HWANGE TO MANA POOLS

(Posted 05th September 2019)

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Together with Capmount Lodges, Wilderness Safaris Zimbabwe and Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) have joined forces to translocate a pack of Endangered wild dogs from Hwange National Park to Chikwenya at Mana Pools National Park on 23rd of September. Further demonstrating the company’s conservation commitment, the move will help to increase the current wild dog population in Mana Pools while mitigating the threat of human-wildlife conflict in Hwange.

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Conserving and restoring Zimbabwe’s wild areas through responsible ecotourism

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. Wilderness Safaris and Capmount Lodges are excited to work with Zimbabwe’s leading wild dog NGO, where the combination of our unique skill sets and conservation values will help drive the success of this vital relocation project”, comments Wilderness Safaris Zambezi Operations Manager, Courteney Johnson.

With conservation a core component of Wilderness Safaris’ 4Cs sustainability ethos, the company’s Sustainability Fund will cover the costs of constructing a boma at Wilderness Safaris Chikwenya, with the camp’s remoteness making it the ideal area for wild dogs. The translocated pack of 10 dogs will be held in the boma, within walking distance of the camp, where they can acclimatise to the area before being released in April 2020.

Wilderness Safaris has also organised a Wilderness Air Caravan to move the dogs from Hwange to Mana, and will pick up the costs to feed the dogs over the next few months. The PDC team will be based at Chikwenya for the duration of the project, and will work closely with Wilderness Safaris’ field team to ensure that all logistical requirements are taken care of.

As Peter Blinston, PDC Executive Director, says, “The primary reason for the move is to mitigate a human-wildlife conflict issue on the eastern boundary of Hwange National Park. This pack was reported to be predating on goats in February 2018. We captured them in June under a directive from Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, and held them at our rehab centre until December before releasing them back into the Park. Unfortunately, they went back to the same communal land area and we were instructed to capture them again and come up with a location further away. The current relatively low painted dog population in Mana Pools, combined with the support from Wilderness Safaris, has provided the ideal opportunity for this translocation and release”.

One of the most positive factors of this project is the opportunity for Chikwenya guests to become “citizen scientists” by actively supporting and participating in the project. Guests staying at the camp on 23 September are able to be part of the translocation experience, from when the dogs arrive at the airstrip and are moved and released into the boma. Peter Blinston will also be available to speak to guests about his research and work on this incredible species. Throughout the rest of the season, until late November 2019, Chikwenya guests will be able to visit the dogs in the boma and interact with the PDC researchers in camp, and again next year when they are released.

Entirely dedicated to wild dog conservation in Zimbabwe, PDC already monitors more than six packs across Hwange. The Nyamepi research base being constructed in Mana Pools will assist PDC’s efficiency in data collection by enabling researchers to process samples on site on a daily basis. Once the dogs are released from the boma, Wilderness Safaris guests and guides will be encouraged to continue contributing to wild dog conservation by taking photos, and noting dates and times of sightings.

As a company that has been committed to driving sustainable ecotourism in Zimbabwe for some two decades, this project demonstrates our ongoing commitment to conserving and restoring Africa’s wilderness and wildlife by creating life-changing journeys and inspiring positive action. We will continue to work closely with PDC to help drive the conservation of this Endangered species in both Mana Pools and Hwange National Parks”, concludes Courteney.

Click here for more information and images on both the wild dog translocation and Chikwenya Camp.

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