Supporting African Painted Dogs in the Wild

Posted June 16, 2017 by Chelsea Wellmer
Our African painted dog pack (Photo: Lisa Hubbard)

In the last few years, the Zoo has seen major success in its efforts to facilitate African painted dog breeding for those individuals under our care. Most recently, we celebrated the birth of 11 painted dog pups in the fall of 2016. As one of only 34 institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) in the United States, where there are roughly 120 painted dogs in human care, every success counts.

The most endangered African carnivore after the Ethiopian wolf, there are approximately 6,600 African painted dogs remaining in the wild, most of whom are found in southern and eastern Africa. The Zoo is proudly helping painted dog conservation efforts on the ground by supporting organizations in Botswana, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.

Examining a wild painted dog (Photo: BPCT / A. Ozgul)

In Botswana, the Zoo supports the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust, an organization addressing a variety of conservation issues affecting African painted dogs. Core projects include Coaching for Conservation, a youth sports club dedicated to teaching participants self-respect, respect for each other, and respect for the environment, the Bio Boundary Project, which uses artificial chemical signals to influence painted dogs to stay in protected conservation areas, and the Domestic Dog Disease Control Program, which provides veterinary services to domestic dogs that could pass on disease to both human and African painted dog populations.

Wild painted dog caught on camera trap (Photo: Ruaha Carnivore Project)

In the Ruaha region of Tanzania, which is home to the third largest African painted dog population in Africa, the Ruaha Carnivore Project mitigates human-wildlife conflict by working directly with local people and researching carnivores that live in the area. The Zoo sponsors a camera in the field that provides valuable information on the presence and location of wildlife.

This year, the Zoo is providing support to two different conservation organizations located in Zimbabwe. The African Wildlife Conservation Fund (AWCF) is working in the Zimbabwean Lowveld, home to the largest African painted dog population in Zimbabwe, to better understand the inner workings of painted dog packs and the threats they face. This includes researching pup survival rates, causes of mortality, movement patterns, and competition from other predators. AWCF also studies the impact of different conservation initiatives aimed at helping African painted dogs.

Snare art in our gift shop (Photo: Shasta Bray)

The Zoo also supports the Painted Dog Research Trust (PDRT), which has been researching painted dogs for over 25 years. When wire snares used for hunting are found by anti-poaching units, PDRT will transform the snares into beaded sculptures of painted dogs. These sculptures can be found in our gift shop and proceeds from the sales go back to PDRT.

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is dedicated to conservation efforts around the globe, and we are excited to share those efforts with you. We are also dedicated to providing our visitors and followers opportunities to get “close enough to care,” so next time you are at the Zoo come check out our pack of African painted dogs.