African Wild Dog Conservation
As one of the most vulnerable species in the whole of Africa, Painted Dogs Lycaon pictus are sadly less than 7000 strong. From a population that once rose into the millions in years gone by, it’s a modern tragedy. They aren’t alone, though. Animal species all over the globe are threatened like never before. Population expansion, loss of habitat, the list goes on and on.
Mankind has a lot to answer for. How can we be the most intelligent species, yet act in the most ignorant fashion?
Animals kill to survive. We kill for fun. There’s a big difference.
You can imagine one day in the not to distant future, there will be endless species that have gone extinct long before the sun runs out of shine. Even if there is technology smart enough to bring a strand of DNA back to life, it won’t be the same as letting those species thrive naturally on their own accord.
Man can’t help but interfere. We’re good at it, but don’t like it when it’s done to us. Animals have no say in the matter.
Conservation is Nature’s Best Friend
Such a beautiful creature as the Painted Dog deserves better than to be wiped out. That’s why people want to help them. Yes, it’s still interfering, but in a good way. It’s the least we can do before it’s too late.
Every animal has the right to thrive in its natural habitat. If it comes down to a few hold outs living in zoos, they might as well be extinct. Let’s be honest, Zoos are nothing more than animal prisons. They need shutting down, because as much as their owners will preach otherwise, all they are is a money making racket.
Zoos are nothing more than animal prisons. They need shutting down, but that’s another story entirely.
Take the famous Elephants, such as Anne, that the public donated thousands towards. The vast majority of the money doesn’t even go towards them. They are still living in cold concrete enclosures, not a tree in sight. It’s sickening when these people call themselves animal lovers. If they genuinely loved animals they’d want them to be free.
At the very least they’d want them to be in a proper enclosure that replicated nature. Zoo owners only think of how much money they will attract so stick them near to the noisey crowds, not the peace and quiet an older elephant desires.
Zimbabwe Boasts 10% of the Painted Dog Population
With approximately 10% of the worldwide population of Painted Dogs living in Zimbabwe, it’s no coincidence that the conservation trust for the species lives there.
Founded in 1992, PDC or Painted Dogs Conservation, was set up by Peter Blinston, an English man who moved to Zimbabwe 20 years ago specifically to start PDC. He has transformed the outfit into a thriving and passionate community that cares about the future survival of this swift-footed carnivore.
If you’d like to offer your support, you can donate on the Painted Dog Conservation website. They have a variety of projects that you can contribute towards; in return you get certificates of adoption, among other things of personal value.
Why did Wild Dogs Disappear from the Serengeti?
Almost thirty years ago, in 1991 to be precise. There was a mystery unfolding in the Serengeti National Park. This spectacular World Heritage Site, with more than 1.5 million gazelles, wildebeest and zebra making their yearly pilgrimage across the park. Their migration pattern is well known, being the star of countless television programmes on the subject.
The huge numbers that take part make for an animal drive-thru. Not quite McDonalds, as they don’t do rare meat just yet. Only the roar of teenage boys revving their engines in the car park. It’s also rather dusty in the planes of Africa and quite hot without the air conditioning. Far too hot for our beloved Painted Dogs, it would seem, as they started to go off the radar.
What could be the problem when there was picnic tables the size of football fields? No barbeque, though. Just kill and eat on the spot. It’s worked perfectly well for millions of years. You don’t even need a knife and fork. If you’re a Wild Dog that is. The conspiracy theories raged, as they always do when nobody has the real answer.
Roger Burrows Thought He had the Answer
It was in 1992 that a British researcher named Roger Burrows came to the rescue. Actually he annoyed a lot of people, he didn’t rescue anything. Not even his own credibility. Why? Well what do you expect when he blamed the researchers for the Painted Dogs diminishing numbers.
He said that researchers were stressing the animals out when they fitted radio collars. This was lowering their immune systems and then they were getting rabies, as it lingered in their blood, but was now coming to life and overpowering the weakened bodily functions.
Burrows wild talk shook the conservation world. Nobody could prove othwerwise… for a while.
Serengeti Hyena and Lion Populations Increased
Whenever a species higher up the food chain succeeds, it increases pressure on their rivals. This is usually the case when it comes to Painted Dogs. Typically they can’t compete with Hyena and Lion families who are much stronger, especially on the flat ground of the Serengeti.
Painted Dogs prefer hillier environments, as it enables them to keep their distance from the Hyenas and Lions. If they make a kill on open ground, rivals can easily see what is going on and quickly steal the carcase from the much lighter-built Painted Dogs.
If the dogs don’t get enough nutrition, they won’t have the strength to breed. Pregnancy takes a heavy toll on the body. When species are pushed to their limits to survive, having a litter of pups or cubs is the last thing that they need to drag them down. Pups will also do much better in times of abundance.
Local Extinction Wasn’t to Blame
So in the end, it wasn’t local extinction that was to blame. The researchers determined that the most likely cause for the diminished Wild Dog population was contraction of range and territory, due to outside pressures. In this case it was partly down to Hyenas increasing from 2200 to 5500, which is over a 150% increase.
When this is combined with a similar increase in Lion numbers, it’s not hard to imagine why Painted Dogs left the area. You could say it’s a bit like when a housing esate changes its demographic. Gentrification might be a human term, but Lions and Hyenas don’t want any riff-raff squatting in their neighbourhood, do they?
Painted Dogs! Not on my watch, said the Lion.
What the 2012 Red List has to Say on Painted Dogs
Although this survey is from 2012, it isn’t that long ago and the numbers they mention are nowhere near the 7000 I came across in another document. Sadly the Red List Survey mentions more like 1500 adult dogs. This makes for uncomfortable reading. How can it be possible to decimate a species like this?
You can easily imagine what it must have been like only two or three hundred years ago. The planes of Africa must have been throbbing with wild animals of every description. The gun, snare and machette have all played their part in the downfall of the World’s ancient animal species.
However bad the situation, though, we must struggle on in the face of adversity. It’s the only way we can save these beautiful creatures that have just as much right as we do to live and roam free. They don’t need pointless possessions to impress one another. All they want is a bit of food and a safe place to sleep.
Humans could learn a lot from animals, but unfortunately we’re too self-centered to take notice. When the day comes that we do, you can be certain that it will be a day too late. We’ll have nobody to blame but ourselves.
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