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Celebrate the African Painted Dog

Emily and Mary Thomas, Assistant Conservation Scientist August 23, 2021


Happy African Painted Dog Day! Today we are celebrating this unique member of the Canidae family and one of our conservation partners, Painted Dog Research Trust (PDRT), that strives to preserve them. Dr. Greg Rassmussen, founder and director of PDRT, has studied these talented hunters in Zimbabwe for over 30 years. African painted dogs live in a closely-knit matriarchy where only the alpha pair reproduces, and the female is typically the strongest hunter. Intensely social, the alpha female and male are integral to the survivability of the entire pack.

Recently, Dr. Rasmussen has been working along the Kazungula Highway. Located in the heart of painted dog country, this highway bisects two national parks and stretches from Victoria Falls in Zambia through Zimbabwe to the Botswana border. As the main road connecting Southern Africa to the Congo and beyond, it is heavily trafficked by freight trucks and tourists alike. It is also heavily trafficked by wildlife that moves between the parks.

In Zimbabwe, it is illegal to hit an animal and NOT report the incident. Even so, many collisions go unreported. Some drivers don’t report an incident because they are unable to identify what species they hit. Other drivers intend to kill or seriously injure an animal and will purposely collide with wildlife. The team at PDRT is working to increase the number of collisions reported while decreasing the overall number of collisions. PDRT has been working closely with government officials to set up roadblocks and checkpoints, update speed laws, and provide drivers with an informational pamphlet.

The Living Desert has spearheaded the development of this pamphlet. Volunteers who helped analyze camera trap data from PDRT last year reunited to create the animal identification portion. Other members of TLD’s Conservation Department pitched in to create the design and provide messaging about safe driving practices and collision reporting. Together, PDRT and TLD hope to give people the tools to prevent animal collisions while having more drivers report those that do occur.

We can all support the painted dog by driving slowly and with extra caution in areas they inhabit, donating to PDRT to support this mission, and visiting TLD to see our pack of Painted Dogs. Your entrance fees directly support our conservation work in Zimbabwe with PDRT. This African Painted Dog Day join the pack of dedicated conservationists worldwide and help us save this incredible species!

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