Another field report from Peter Blinston at Painted Dog Conservation, Zimababwe

We received a new order of beautiful snarewire sculptures from Painted Dog Conservation’s arts and craft center in Zimbabwe the other day.  We have wire rhinos, warthogs, giraffes, and Painted dogs, so stop by the gift shop and take a look. 

Enjoy reading more of  Painted Dog Conservation’s heroic adventures in Zimbabwe!

November was a pivotal month for Painted Dog Conservation. After many years of trying,we finally succeeded in our ambitions to begin monitoring the dogs in Mana Pools. “Mana” is a key national and regional population and as such, collecting data on pack numbers, individuals and their movements is considered vital.  To this end, I went to Mana Pools with long time dog friend and chairman of PDC Netherlands, Ron van der A. For me it was a real “bus man’s holiday” as we had a single focus. Apart from a cooling swim in the Zambezi River after we arrived at Vundu Camp, hot and bothered from our long drive, it was all about the dogs. Vundu camp is owned and run by Nick and Desiree Murray. It was
purely by chance that we booked to stay at the camp, however it was soon clear that we had made the right choice as Nick is almost as fanatical about the dogs as we are and has years of experience operating in Mana Pools.

We set out at 4:00 AM the following morning,the sky heavy and threatening rain. The temperature quickly soared to impossibly uncomfortable degrees. Nick knows Mana Pools like the back of his hand and we dissected the place, hindered by the limited road network. By 10:00 AM we were extremely hot and frustrated, then Desiree called on the radio. The dogs, the Vundu pack, had been seen to the west the day before, on the Wilderness Safari Concession. Nick sought permission for us to drive onto their private concession, which was granted without any hesitation. Mana Pools is a remote place and the operators there work cooperatively with each other and we have a good relationship with Wilderness through our work in Hwange,however we were all delighted by their willingness to help. It got even better, as they had actually seen the dogs that morning, while on a game drive with their clients. One of the guides knew me from our work on Starvation Island and he took us to the spot where the dogs had been resting just an hour before.

 

Nick and I walked into the thick bush, dodging elephant herds and hoping that the lion we had just seen was walking the other way! I was thinking that it would have been good to have Jealous with us to track them down but I need not have worried. Nick’s tracking was as good as any I have seen and we soon found the dogs resting in a dry river bed. It was 11:30 AM and really, really hot. It felt like my eyeballs were melting!! Far too hot to even think about darting dogs and so we watched them for a short while before they moved on into thicker bush.

We came back in the afternoon and Nick tracked them down again while guiding us around a large bull elephant. He lost the tracks on hard ground and we searched around a little, before looking at a distant tree line and simultaneously saying “they must be over there.” Sure enough they were. The tree line marked another dry riverbed but the dogs had found a last remaining puddle of water in a bend in the river. It was muddy and smelly but particularly inviting as a way to cool down and avoid the annoying flies. We sat quietly on the bank of the river above them, not much more than 20 metres away. Ron was with us this time and we counted over and over again but could not come up with the same number of individuals in the pack. I had never seen so many dogs in one pack. I gave up counting so I could just enjoy sitting with them, watching them play happily together.

Elephants eventually disturbed the dogs and they reluctantly left their precious muddy puddle. We edged back to the vehicle as night fell, nervously avoiding the same elephant herds but so happy that we had found the pack.

At 4:00 AM the next day we set out again and in typical dog following tradition we could not find them. Completely frustrated we returned to camp at midday and did what we could to keep cool in the blistering heat. The offer of an afternoon on the river, swimming and generally taking it easy was so tempting but we stuck to our mission and went out again to bounce around in the Land Rover looking for mystical dogs. Nothing. But the rains finally came and relieved the oppressive heat.

4:00 AM again. Our last morning. We drove around with increased tension and saw impala running hard through the bush. Straining our eyes through binoculars we searched for the dogs but could not see anything and kept moving. Nick picked up what could have been the footprint of one dog. However because it was only one and not 20+ we moved on and turned down into the riverbed where they had been resting the two days prior. This time he stopped the car and leapt out quickly to confirm the footprints of at least 18 dogs walking through the deep sand. We raced around and finally caught up with them on an airstrip near to where we had seen the impala running. It was almost the perfect situation for darting dogs. Open ground, good shade trees nearby and water. However, the dogs were quite full. Normally we do not dart a dog when its stomach is full, however we were under some pressure and luckily we had a vet with us from the USA, who happened to be a guest at the camp. I decided it was worth the risk and we closed in on the alpha female.

The darting and collar fitting were all done quickly and efficiently and soon the alpha female, now named Tait, after Nick’s daughter, was back with her pack, wearing a GPS collar. We waited with them for another couple of hours and finally agreed that there were 23 dogs in the pack. Mana Pools is quite inaccessible during the rainy season and so the GPS collar will give us vital data on the pack’s movements during this period. We drove back to Harare, tired but very pleased that this first “mission” had been so successful.

Despite what I now consider to be the usual difficulties, it had been another successful year for PDC. Wilton and his team supervised more schools than ever before through our Children’s Bush Camp programme, including one from Zambia. Our anti poaching units have worked well with National parks and we have been encouraged by the sightings of new packs of dogs in Hwange National Park. “

By Peter Blinston, PDC’s Manager



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This morning, we humanely euthanized our male, 20-year-old jaguar, Kan Balam. Due to the tremendous care provided to him by his keepers and our veterinary team, Kan Balam lived well beyond his expected lifespan. Jaguars expected lifespan in the wild is between 12-15 years.

The carnivore staff and veterinary team made the decision after his quality of life began to decline. Quality care and continuous advances in veterinary medicine extends animals’ lives longer than ever, with most felines in human care living well beyond previous generations. Because of this, all cats, including domestic house cats and jaguars, often spend a significant phase of their lives as older animals, and are at a higher risk for geriatric complications.

Read more about Kan B, and the love his keepers had for him on our blog: www.houstonzoo.org/blog/mourning-loss-geriatric-jaguar-kan-balam/
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This morning, we humanely euthanized our male, 20-year-old jaguar, Kan Balam.  Due to the tremendous care provided to him by his keepers and our veterinary team, Kan Balam lived well beyond his expected lifespan. Jaguars expected lifespan in the wild is between 12-15 years. 
 
The carnivore staff and veterinary team made the decision after his quality of life began to decline. Quality care and continuous advances in veterinary medicine extends animals’ lives longer than ever, with most felines in human care living well beyond previous generations. Because of this, all cats, including domestic house cats and jaguars, often spend a significant phase of their lives as older animals, and are at a higher risk for geriatric complications.

Read more about Kan B, and the love his keepers had for him on our blog: https://www.houstonzoo.org/blog/mourning-loss-geriatric-jaguar-kan-balam/

 

Comment on Facebook

Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur; happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr purr purr #RIP #bigbangtheory

I know he lived a lot longer due to the excellent care he got at the Zoo.

Is this the one that had the limp?

This was my daughters favorite critter at the Zoo. We always went to say hello to him before anyone else whenever we went. When she was 7 years old we sent a post out to out neighborhood on Halloween saying Paisley was asking for pocket change donations in lieu of candy for Halloween and all amounts would be donated to Kan thru the zoo. She raised over $40 in coins! I still have the letter from the zoo thanking her for her donation. He was a sweet boy and will be missed. 😔

I saw him limping about 2 weekends ago. The first time we walked by he was fine. When we walked by on the way out he was limping and moaning pretty loudly. I wondered what happened but I figured his keeper already knew or would find out shortly. Super Sad. He was always a lively one.

Sorry to hear about your loss. We also lost a jaguar(melanistic variety) at Reid Park Zoo about a year ago. Nikita was 21 years old and was euthanized due to health-related issues. Sad, but they have a GOOD life at the zoo! No predators, a steady food supply, medical attention, loving kindness from her keeper(s) and admiration by the public. Geriatric animals have unique problems and we are blessed to get to know them as long as we do.

Jaguar habitat is in the Zoo or Jungle's? ??or is only entertainments for person's? ??$$$$$$$!.Sorry animals the person's don't love you ..

Thank you Houston Zoo for taking such good care of him and all the animals! I've been going to this zoo since I was little bitty. I always enjoy it.

Dunno if the Zoo staff considered him a pet but he was certainly a family member, and because of that i offer this: RainbowBridge Author Unknown Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Aww. When interning in the carnivore dept he was one of my faves. So smart! Ashley remember when Angie was teaching him to do the moonwalk after Michael Jackson passed?

Sending love to the keepers that are broken hearted right now. And thank you for all the care you’ve given.

Beautiful jaguar ....so grateful for the Houston Zoo keepers and veterinary team that gave their time and efforts to share this awesome jaguar with us for so many years.

He was well-cared for and most of all well-loved. My heartfelt condolences to those missing Kan B as well as me. What an amazing ambassador for his kind. What a beautiful old gentleman. Thank you for loving him into old age and giving him peace.

What a great long life he lived because of his excellent care at the zoo Thoughts go out to his keepers and the entire Houston Zoo staff

Thank you for doing what was right and kind for Kan Balam even though it was hard and painful for you. That’s true love for an animal. ❤️

RIP Kan Balam. You have given the visitors so much pleasure just watching you over these years. You were taken care of by top notch professional handlers, etc.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Thanks for taking such great care of him so he was able to live a long life. My thoughts are with his keepers and all who adored him. <3

Aww I’m so sorry for the loss, I’ve seen him many times, he was absolutely gorgeous! I’m glad that you guys were able to make him comfortable, sometimes the best thing we can do is let them be at peace. Will miss this handsome guy; play hard at the Rainbow Bridge friend, day hi to my cat, Junior for me!! Much love to the HZI staff!!

Jaguars are one of my favorite and he seems like a sweet boy. I'm so sad but I'm happy he can be painless and be free now. RIP❤️

The Houston Zoo staff has lost several animals this year and I am sure each one is so hard to go through.

I am soo sorry for the loss of this handsome fella Kan Balam. May he rest in peace and run free or any pain over the rainbow bridge.. My heart and prayers go out to each and every one of the staff at the Zoo.

Katie Rose Buckley-Jones I won’t ever forget the time you asked him to bring something and he ripped off a piece of cardboard and tried to hand it to you ❤️ thank you for introducing me to him. Sending you guys many hugs

So sorry to the keeping staff for your loss i cant imagine how youre feeling :( his old age is a testimony to the amazing care he received

I will miss him. The last time I saw him he looked tired, and it appeared his foot was bothering him.

Sad to hear of this. Thanks for taking such good and compassionate care for him and the other animals.

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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: I'm still using this.
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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: Im still using this.

 

Comment on Facebook

Are there some zoo animals that enjoy this weather?

SMG is another reason why Houston Zoo is the best Zoo!

Happy New Year “sea lion keeper “ 💖💖

More snow for TJ and Max ❤️ lucky them!

Are we positive that’s the statue rather than it really just being that cold? 😛

That’s my best friend Sophie for ya! 😂

Brrrrr

Omg the Zoo is so awesome 😂😂😂 Alana Berry

Omg be warm sweetoe

Haha!! Good one!

Sweetie 💞

Ashley Jucker 😂

Lauren Gonzales

Mike DePope

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