Fewer then 3000 Painted dogs (aka African Wild dogs) remain in Africa due to various human pressures. Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) was established by Dr. Greg Rasmussen to save the endangered Painted dogs by engaging the local people. Poaching with snares continues to be one of the leading threats to the survival of this species. PDC developed anti-poaching units, staffed by local community members, in an effort to control this threat. Since the first of these units was deployed in 2001, they have collected well over 15,000 snares. Had the snares gone untouched, it would mean approximately one thousand animals killed.
An important aspect of the units’ work is the training and development of additional anti-poaching teams in the region. Poaching is such a wide spread problem that it is impossible for one organization such as PDC to employ enough anti-poaching scouts to combat the full situation. PDC responds to these critical needs by training and developing additional anti-poaching units for the local landowners, supplying field equipment and clothing in the process. Gaining the trust and respect of local people is an ongoing process and has helped to transform many poachers into advocates for the Painted dog and participants in the project.
In addition to providing employment opportunities for members of the anti-poaching units, PDC’s program benefits community artists as well. At the Iganyana Arts Center, founded by PDC in 2003, talented local residents craft the snare wire removed from the bush into impressive animal sculptures. They also make paintings, jewelry and carved wooden Painted dogs from a variety of locally-gathered materials.
Production of this artwork provides skills and financial security for the artists. In addition, the program provides an opportunity for conservation education on sustainable use of resources and reuse of materials. Through sales of the crafts locally and worldwide, individuals and communities learn about the critical need to protect Africa’s remaining Painted dogs and other wildlife.
These sculptures are now available in the conservation corner of the Houston Zoo gift shop. Save endangered species by bringing these beautiful animal sculptures made of snare wire home with you and keeping it out of the African National Parks for good!