The African painted dog (also called African wild dog) may be the most endangered carnivore in Africa, with less than 5,000 remaining in the wild. Like other predators, it has been persecuted for hunting livestock and its habitat is shrinking as the human population grows. It is also susceptible to diseases spread by domestic dogs like rabies and distemper.
Examining an African painted dog (Photo: BPCT/ A. Ozgul)
The Zoo supports field projects aimed at protecting African painted dogs and encouraging human-carnivore coexistence in Africa, including the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust (BPCT). Led by Dr. Tico McNutt, BPCT has been studying African painted dog behavior and ecology in Botswana since 1989. More recently, its research and protection has expanded to include all the large carnivore species in Botswana (painted dog, lion, leopard, cheetah and spotted hyaena). By tracking radio-collared individuals, BPCT monitors the movement of predators to help understand how they use the habitat and interact with other species. The knowledge gained through this research is applied to creating biology-based solutions that allow people and predators to thrive in the same landscape.
The Ruaha Carnivore Project (RCP) works with local communities to ensure the survival of predators, including painted dogs, and people in and around Ruaha National Park in Tanzania. The third largest African painted dog population lives in the Ruaha region.
RCP documents the presence and location of wildlife species through community-reported sightings and photos taken by motion-triggered cameras, or camera traps. Through the Ruaha Explorer’s Club, the Zoo sponsors a camera in the field. Follow the Cincinnati Zoo Cam Facebook page to see images of wildlife our camera has captured.
Reinforcing fencing around corrals to keep livestock safe from predators at night, for example, goes a long way toward building positive relationships between people and predators.
RCP helps communities realize tangible benefits from having carnivores around by providing employment for local people, school supplies, scholarships and a stocked medical clinic.
Regular education and outreach activities such as movie nights and community meetings are held. The project even takes villagers and school children who have never been to Ruaha National Park on educational visits to the park.
Wire snare art for sale at Zoo gift shop (Photo: Shasta Bray)
The Painted Dog Research Trust has been studying African painted dogs In Zimbabwe for more than 25 years. The Zoo participates in a unique program to support PDRT’s efforts to protect painted dogs. Local artisans are hired to create sculptures from wire snares collected by anti-poaching units. The sculptures are sold in our gift shop, proceeds from which support PDRT.