Going to the Dogs
We were recently travelled with dear friends, finding the best Painted Dog locations across Africa, counting packs and individuals as a kind of snapshot. There is no doubt they are in trouble. More and more, we field requests from aficionados who want to come to Great Plains primarily to spend time with wild dogs.
But what came out of this recent safari was a surprising journey, almost a spiritual one. It was a quest to find the canine heart of Africa, one where if anyone were informed about the significance of Painted dogs, they would never harm them. There has never been a case of a dog harming a human. They want to just carry on with their own lives, social, complex, caring and very important to Africa.
Duba Plains, in Botswana, now has a small pack hunting into the massive herds of lechwe on the island.
Across the water at Duba Explorers Camp, a pack of 12 wild dogs blast through everything, with a preference for impala and kudu.
Our brand new Okavango Explorers Camp has a new pack that was drinking right in front of camp this week, and the Selinda Explorers pack indelicately uses the camp to hunt in, often.
Between all these camps, the count is close to sixty adults. Also, we don’t yet know what packs may exist in the vast open spaces of the maps of our concessions.
Across in Zimbabwe, we met up with expert Nick Dyer, and at Tembo Plains, there is a very mobile small pack of 3 and a pack from Mana Pools. They were recently collared in fantastic work by Peter Blinston and the Painted Dog Conservation unit.
Under a new rewilding project, we will be bringing a new pack into Tembo Plains next year; not an easy task, but with the help and collaboration of local experts, we have a great chance of success.
If in time, we, as Great Plains, can host 100-150 Painted Dogs, then I think we will be gaining ground in the race – that incredible race to extinction which having only about 4,500 adult dogs in Africa implies.
Each extinction is devastating. An ever erosion of those last individuals, either from ignorance or cruelty, is unnecessary.
Many don’t appreciate that there is a growing following of tourists and travellers who want to be in the company of Painted Dogs.
Dogs are a vital part of biodiversity, keeping savanna ecosystems alive and critical, keeping prey moving and alert and yet they are some of the most persecuted animals in Africa. They are social, protective, complex, and beautiful. They carry something haunting with them, yet each day they set out to secure their pups’ survival and futures is special.
This short video piece is a tribute to them and those who care.
What they need from us is tolerance and compassion.
What they teach us is tolerance and compassion!