Animals in the wild are faced with dangers every day. Many of those dangers are man-made. African painted dogs are the second most endangered carnivore in Africa and are frequent prey to the snares set up by poachers. The poachers are not particularly interested in the dogs, but are after animals like antelope to sell to the bush-meat trade. However, snares are indiscriminant and many other species are caught.
Conservationists in Zimbabwe are combating this by modifying radio collars to help snared dogs be able to break the wire. The Houston Zoo has partnered with Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) and Painted Dog Research Trust (PDRT) in order to help design a more effective, lightweight collar. Members of the Zoos’ maintenance staff came up with several ideas for clips to attach to the collars that would catch the wire and then focus it to a breaking point.
Combined with the efforts of anti-poaching units dispatched to collect snares from the bush, these new collars will be instrumental in saving the lives of painted dogs in the wild. The loss of even one dog to a snare can completely decimate a pack, and with numbers estimated at 3,000-5,000 the dogs need every chance they can be afforded.
The Houston Zoo loves its painted dog pack and wants to help protect them in the wild. We have a unique relationship with PDC and PDRT and have dispatched staff members to the research sites in order to utilize their particular expertise. In exchange, PDC has sent staff to the Houston Zoo to work with us to exchange techniques and ideas.
We also assist with the African painted dog conservation effort by offering snare wire art for sale to our guests. Snare wire is collected by anti-poaching units and then delivered to local artisans who craft different animals out of it. This gets the wire out of the country as well as brings funds to local villages. 100% of the proceeds go back to Zimbabwe.
The Houston Zoo is celebrating everything painted dog on the weekend of June 7 and 8 during our annual Dog Days of Summer celebration! Please join us for keeper chats, enrichment demonstrations, and kid’s crafts. The event is scheduled to run from 10AM-2PM each day at the painted dog exhibit.